16-year-old tennis player Taylor Townsend has won the 2012 Australian Open junior singles and doubles title, and the junior doubles title this year at Wimbledon and the US Open. She currently holds the #1 world ranking for junior girls, and as impressive as those credentials may be, the young tennis phenom is getting more attention for her physique than her on-court play. Her struggle became more public this year when she was discouraged by the U.S.T.A. from playing in the US Open. They refused pick up her expenses saying she was not in shape, forcing her mother to pay her way. Women tennis stars Lindsay Davenport and Serena Williams, who have both faced criticism about their body types, came to Townsend’s defense, and she eventually received an apology. Townsend’s mother told the NY Times the controversy has only made her daughter stronger.
“I love the game of tennis so much because it mirrors the game of life so much,” said Shelia Townsend, who continued: “At the end of the day, you have to stand on what you’ve learned and fall back on what you know and everything you’ve been taught. Over all, what Taylor’s been through this year has helped her to become more self-assured and even stronger in who she is and not have to look for the approval of somebody else. At the end of the day, her results speak for themselves.” “When Serena came out, to have somebody who looks like her in every way — body shape and ethnicity — and has gone through similar experiences, it resonated a lot with Taylor. Taylor’s never going to be a size 5, and that’s O.K. We just want her to be as strong and as healthy as she can be, where her body can perform at an optimal level. What it looks like at the end of the day, that’s what it is.”
Townsend, who has recently turned pro, will play in her first two professional events next month.
“When you’re the top seed in juniors, everyone’s gunning for you,” Townsend said. “But as a pro, there will be no expectations because everyone’s older than me. When you’re younger, everything’s in your favor. You can just go out there and have fun.”
Great athletes come in ALL different shapes and sizes. I have seen 6’5 315 pound lineman move with the speed and agility that most men would dream of having, and 210 pound women sprint faster than those almost half their size. It’s great to see that Taylor continues to prove her naysayers wrong on the court, because we all know the best way to shut a hater up is by winning. Go luck to her as she turns pro.