Many years ago, the tennis world was rocked by two young, bead-rockin, bionic backhanding, young girls from Compton, California, by the name of Serena and Venus Williams. Venus has always been slender, but Serena was a bit thicker and her muscular body has gotten even bigger. But, she is the poster child of fitness and she knows all about being scrutinized and discriminated against on the court. Now a new tennis powerhouse has hit the scene with the same body image issues Serena experienced.
Taylor Townsend is 16 years old and is the number one junior women’s tennis player in the world. She rocked the 2012 Australian Open and three junior grand slam doubles titles, but then the United States Tennis Association refused to allow her to participate in the U.S. Open citing her size and health. According to the Atlantic Wire:
“Our concern is her long-term health, number one, and her long-term development as a player,” Patrick McEnroe, the general manager of the USTA’s player development program (and a tennis commentator)told Perrotta and the WSJ. “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.”
Likely story. But she was okay when she was ripping up the court and winning everything in sight in other tournaments this year, right? Serena Williams addressed the issue in an ESPN report saying:
“If that happened, that’s obviously a tragedy, because everyone deserves to play. … Women athletes come in all different sizes and shapes and colors and everything. I think you can see that more than anywhere on the tennis tour.”
Well, it did happen and Townsend was devastated. So much so, that her mother paid for her to participate in the U.S. Open when the USTA refused. Townsend said:
“I didn’t get any definite answer on why they didn’t want me to play they just told me that they felt I should focus on my fitness,” said Townsend in an interview Good Morning America over the weekend. And she explained the gravity of being the No.1 junior player in the world to USA Today, “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.”
Now the USTA is backpedaling on their decision saying that the incident was just a “miscommunication” and now they are preparing to reimburse her and her mother. BETTER HAD!
Read more here.