Candid Taylor Townsend is delighted with social media’s reaction to her weight issues

Taylor Townsend gives a hearty laugh at the idea that she might have been worried about social media trolls.

“No, because I knew I was fat,” she says matter-of-factly. “You won’t hurt my feelings, I’m well aware of that. But I’m doing something about it.”

Townsend, a 26-year-old American, talks about her journey back to tennis after giving birth to her son Adyn 18 months ago.

Female athletes having children mid-career are becoming more common, especially in tennis, but not many are willing to show their bodies publicly after childbirth.

Townsend did just that, posting videos of her early workouts on Instagram and making no attempt to hide how difficult she found it. Considering what she went through early in her career, it was extremely brave.

From humble beginnings on the south side of Chicago, Townsend had become the best junior in the world and won the Australian Open girls’ title by 2012 when she was denied a US Open wildcard and asked to sit out the junior tournament because of her physique.

In an honest article for The Players’ Tribune last year, Townsend wrote: “They didn’t just snub me because I didn’t fit the ‘form’ of a tennis player – they punished me. They took away something I deserved. I was fat and I was black so they took my dream away from me. Or at least they tried.”

A talented left-hander with an appealing game, Townsend still played at the US Open Juniors and won the doubles title, but the experience had a profound impact on her.

Ten years later, the road back to fitness from birth was tough, and Townsend said, “It was very difficult. For the longest time I was like, ‘Oh, I just need to lose 20 pounds,’ and I was struggling with it.

“But then after he and I had 80 to lose, I was like, ‘Holy shit. I’ve never had to do that’. It was a lot of firsts for me. I just wanted people to know that I’m struggling even though we’re out here in these pitches and these stadiums hitting a fuzzy yellow ball.

I think it was inspirational for people because not many people show when they’re down and in a fight.

“I wanted to share this with everyone because it’s something incredibly real.”

Fortunately, Townsend found the reaction on social media positive.

“I didn’t know how long it would take, I didn’t know what the trail would look like, I didn’t know if everything would go according to plan,” she said.

“But I really didn’t understand that (abuse). I think it was inspirational for people because not many people show when they’re down and in a fight. It was more “See you,” and that meant more to me.

“That’s why being here in these places is so much more rewarding because I really deserve to be back out here and every single game I play. I had to put in the work and that gives me a lot of confidence.”

The United States Tennis Association has been heavily criticized for its handling of Townsend, and its experiences demonstrated a lack of understanding of cultural differences regarding body shape.

Encouragingly, Townsend feels things have changed over the past decade and is pleased to know that others have benefited from the difficulties she has experienced.

“I’ve seen things happen that were different than when I came through,” she said. “I’ve had conversations with Coco[Gauff]several times and she’s like, ‘My parents didn’t do this and that because of what you went through.’

“That she says that means a lot because I know I didn’t fight in vain. And it’s the same kind of energy that I’m trying to draw out of Venus and Serena. They didn’t fight without a reason because we’re here, we’re playing, people are cheering and happy to see us here.

“They didn’t understand that when they first came onto the circuit and for years it was a lot of headwinds. If hardships that I went through and learned a lot from personally, that helped me grow as a person, helped other people overcome roadblocks, I think that’s a win.”

Townsend experienced early ups and downs in women’s football and later revealed she had struggled with depression, but she produced some notable results, most notably her run to the fourth round of the US Open in 2019, which included defeating Simona Halep.

She returned to the tour in April after not playing since the US Open in 2020, winning back her third tournament.

Townsend’s ranking is already back in the top 200 and despite losing a close match to Katerina Siniakova in the first round of singles at Flushing Meadows, she and Caty McNally are in the third round of doubles.

Adyn enjoys roaming around the player areas and Townsend is adamant that the best days of her career lie ahead.

She said: “I made it a goal to come back after my son was better than me and that’s in multiple facets and areas, not just how I play. I definitely feel like a different player, much clearer, much more confident in what I’m doing.” Candid Taylor Townsend is delighted with social media’s reaction to her weight issues

Fry Electronics Team

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