Taylor Townsend Had to 'Dive Into My Personal Self' to Overcome US Open Trauma

Taylor Townsend Had to 'Dive Into My Personal Self' to Overcome US Open Trauma

by Alex Waite

Last updated

Taylor Townsend delighted home fans at the 2023 US Open by reaching the third round, but it is also an achievement that holds a personal significance for the 27-year-old.

In 2012, Townsend was expected to participate in the US Open as a top-ranked junior at the age of 16. But, in bizarre circumstances, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) would not allow Townsend to compete in the Grand Slam because of her weight.

Following the controversial decision by the USTA, Townsend split from the governing body and continued her career as an independent player. When reflecting on the difficult period over a decade ago, Townsend believes she had to battle with the internal issues of body positivity and perceptions of being overweight, which have stuck ever since.

"I really had to dive into my personal self and try to figure out and break down, like, 'How do you feel about yourself, how is it that the experiences that you've had have affected you when it comes to the tennis world?' People talking about my weight, people talking about very sensitive subjects, how I look. Physical appearance is always judged from the very time you step out on the court."

In the years after her fallout with the USTA, Townsend played at the US Open with mixed success. Her best performance came in 2019 when she reached the fourth round of the competition.

However, the American WTA player is hoping to improve on her 2019 feat as she progressed to round three of the 2023 US Open after opening wins over Varvara Gracheva and Beatriz Haddad Maia. Townsend will now face a tough test against Roland Garros finalist Karolina Muchova in the third round and the US player feels that her past experiences help when thinking forward to set achievable targets in the big moments.

"I really had to break down a lot of things and detach from that, really like say, 'Look, this is where you're at now, it's not where you want to be, set a goal'. That was the start. I set a goal."


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