“Sport” Light Focus; Taylor Townsend

Taylor Townsend is a plus size American professional tennis player, born April 16, 1996.  At the Age of 15, Townsend defeated Russian player Yulia Putintseva, to win the 2012 Australian Open junior title and became No. 1-ranked junior by the end of 2012. She went on to become 2012 Australian Open girls’ singles Champion

In 2012; Townsend was asked by the USTA to sit out of the 2012 U.S Open Junior tournament due to her weight and her request for a wild card for the U.S. Open main draw or the qualifying tournament which she received the year before was also denied.  Patrick McEnroe stated, “Our concern is her long-term health, number one, and her long-term development as a player. We have one goal in mind: For her to be playing in Arthur Ashe Stadium in the main draw and competing for major titles when it’s time”. The USTA’s decision shocked Townsend given the fact that she was the top-ranked junior girl in the world.

USTA’s decision was sharply criticized by players like Lindsay Davenport and Martina Navratilova. Sports Illustrated wrote, “Instead of helping a promising young talent gain that confidence and experience gleaned from competing, the USTA has taken a paternalistic tack, deeming itself the arbiter and architect behind Townsend’s past, present and future success. It’s the arrogance of institution built on the belief that there is a tried-and-true formula to build a champion.”

Townsend seemed to be headed for a sure-thing pro career. But she soon became familiar with the cruel vagaries of tennis and the heartache of trying to become the picture of what a professional athlete should look like.

Townsend split from her USTA coaches following the controversy and began training with former world No. 4, Olympic doubles gold medalist, and 1990 Wimbledon finalist Zina Garrison, who has been her coach ever since. Townsend is also coached by Kamau Murray, whom she has known since she was 6 years old.

Today, Townsen continues to grow her career and keeps setting the trend for plus size women in sports.

 

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