Taylor Townsend: "People looked at my physique and judged my abilities"

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Taylor Townsend: "People looked at my physique and judged my abilities"

Taylor Townsend is one of the most interesting players on the WTA tour. She qualified for the main draw of the US Open 2019. After passing Kateryna Kozlova, she surprisingly beat the world number four Simona Halep, fresh from the victory at the Wimbledon Championships saving a match point.

This represented Townsend's first win against a Top 10 after eleven attempts; the match had a strong media impact also thanks to the 106 net approaches by the American, which are an exception in women's tennis. In the third round she defeated Sorana Cîrstea landing for the first time in the round of 16 of a Grand Slam, where however he lost to the future champion Bianca Andreescu.

In a new entry in Behind the Racquet's photo-essay series, Townsend revealed the hard times when she was a child: “For as long as I can remember, I have been counted out of the conversation. At the age of 2, I was kicked out of a tennis program and the directors told my parents that I was fat, lazy and uncoachable.

How people can determine this from a child, I have no idea. From the beginning, people looked at my physique and automatically judged my abilities before I walked on the court and started playing. The tennis court was my happy place, where I felt free and where opinions didn’t matter.

Fast forward to age 14, I had been recognized by the USTA and moved to Florida alone in hopes of bettering myself and my tennis career, I did not know what that looked like at that time. I remember losing a singles match in an ITF juniors event, and pulled Noah (yes… this Noah Rubin) to the side and told him, ‘I don’t think I am cut out to be a singles player.

I cant win a match in singles, but am winning everything in doubles. Maybe my path is being chosen for me.’ Noah then said, ‘No Taylor, it will happen, just give it time.’ The following week, I won my first ITF junior title in Tulsa, then JR.

Aussie Open. From that moment, my life changed and the success that I was yearning for, that seemed so far away, was now right in front of me. I turned pro at 15 years old, and shortly after faced issues I never would have imagined.

I found out that my mother was stealing money from me, and was using my prize money earnings and endorsements for her personal benefit. This rocked my world because I felt betrayed and lost, but it taught me many valuable lessons.

No matter who it is, when someone shows who they are, believe them. This situation also taught me to never let my guard down when it comes to me and my business. Looking back, I see that it was a refining process for both myself and my circle.

I had to get rid of the dead weight. I moved back home to Atlanta and surrounded myself with people who I knew had my back. It has been a rocky road to get to where I am now, but ultimately I wouldn’t change it for the world.

The experiences of being told no, not fitting the ‘image’, being internationally body shamed, struggling with inward depression and outward confidence issues, have all given me the strength to stand up tall and own my s**t.

This is who I am, take it or leave it. I am proud of the person I have become, and I am so excited for the growth ahead. It’s levels to this life thing”.