Taylor Townsend: The US Open star who was told she was 'too fat' for tennis

American tennis player Taylor Townsend

Taylor Townsend suffered heartbreak in the US Open doubles tournament after missing out on a Grand Slam title to Barbora Krejčíková and Kateřina Siniaková.

The Czech duo staged a comeback against Townsend and Caty McNally in the final, triumphing 3-6, 7-5, 6-1.

But it was still a glorious return to tennis for Townsend, who was playing at the US Open for the first time since giving birth to her son in March 2021.

The 26-year-old also had the chance to prove her detractors wrong, specifically Patrick McEnroe, the former general manager of USTA player development.

Why was Taylor Townsend prevented from playing at the 2012 US Open?

Back in 2012, Townsend was the junior world number one and the reigning Australian Open juniors champion.

With the US Open looming, the American was hopeful of competing in the main draw of the Grand Slam as a wildcard.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 28: Taylor Townsend of the United States of America plays a backhand in her junior girls final match against Yulia Putintseva of Russia during day thirteen of the 2012 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 28, 2012 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mark Dadswell/Getty Images)

But Townsend has claimed the USTA refused to pay her travel expenses for the tournament until she “lost some weight”, also requesting that she did not play in either the adult or junior event.

“They didn’t just alienate me for not fitting the ‘mould’ of what a tennis player should look like – they punished me,” Townsend wrote in an essay for The Players’ Tribune last year.

“They took away something I’d earned. I was fat, and I was black, so they took away my dream. Or at least they tried.”

Taylor Townsend in 2012
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 28: Taylor Townsend of the United States of America poses with the winner’s trophy after winning the junior girls final match against Yulia Putintseva of Russia during day thirteen of the 2012 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 28, 2012 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mark Dadswell/Getty Images)

Did Taylor Townsend comment on the situation at the US Open?

Townsend showed extreme grace as she was interviewed by McEnroe after the US Open doubles final.

It is believed that McEnroe oversaw the decision not to give Townsend a wildcard into the 2012 US Open, and she appeared to reference this.

“I’ve put in the work, I’ve earned my way to be here,” she told him. “And everyone can see that.”

Caty McNally and Taylor Townsend at the US Open
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 11: Caty McNally of the United States(L) and Taylor Townsend of the United States hold their second place trophy after a loss against Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic and Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic during their Women’s Doubles Final match on Day Fourteen of the 2022 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 11, 2022 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Townsend later elaborated on her point in the post-match press conference.

“I meant what I said, I said what I meant,” she said. “I wasn’t given anything. I really had to work my ass off to get here and to be able to play at this level. That’s just point-blank, period.

“It gives me the confidence to be able to know I can be out here with anybody, to be able to do it so soon within a year. That just gives me so much more confidence to know where I can go as I continue to build, as I continue to get more matches.”

Video: Taylor Townsend’s post-match interview at the US Open

What else has Taylor Townsend achieved during her career?

Townsend was building momentum before the COVID-19 pandemic, reaching a career high ranking of world number 61 in 2018.

The following year, she reached the fourth round of the US Open for the first time, defeating Simona Halep on the way.

Now ranked 190th in the world, Townsend made her return to the WTA Tour at the French Open. Alongside Madison Keys, she went all the way to the semi-finals in the doubles tournament.

Townsend worked for Tennis Channel during her time away from the court, something she credits with making her a “little bit more analytical”.

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