The number one ranked junior girl’s tennis player, Taylor Townsend, 16, is experiencing some trouble in her career — the United States Tennis Association feels she’s overweight.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Townsend’s coaches declined to pay her travel expenses and entry into the U.S. Open and instead asked her to focus on her “health.”
Patrick McEnroe, the general manager of the USTA’s player development program said, “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. That’s how we make every decision, based on that.”
The young tennis champion appeared on Good Morning America recently and said she wasn’t given a clear answer as to why she wasn’t allowed to compete in this year’s tournament. “Pretty much all the other federations, if they had a No. 1 junior in the world, they would kind of break their backs to bring them to whatever they needed to go to… I’m not going to sit here and say I’m the fastest person or the most agile, because I’m not.”
Townsend’s mother decided to take it upon herself and pay for her daughter’s travel expenses and entry into the U.S. Open. “It all kind of came as a shock to us because Taylor has consistently done quite well. [She] is No. 1, not just in the United States, but in the world.”
Current U.S. Open champion and Olympic gold medal winner Serena Williams was shocked to hear the news and knows a thing or two about being unfairly criticized because of her shape. “If that happened, that’s obviously a tragedy, because everyone deserves to play,” said Williams. “She’s so sweet and she works so hard. For a female, particularly, in the United States, in particular, and African-American, to have to deal with that is unnecessary. Women athletes come in all different sizes and shapes and colors and everything. I think you can see that more than anywhere on this tennis tour.”
Despite all the negative talk about Townsend’s weight, she won the 2012 Junior Australian Open, as well as three junior Grand Slam doubles titles. Unfortunately, Townsend didn’t make it past the semi-finals in the U.S. Open, but plans to put all the drama behind her.
Since the story broke, the USTA has decided they will reimburse Townsend’s mother for her expenses.
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