There is a Serena Williams-type tennis player terrorizing the world’s junior tennis circuit, a black girl named Taylor Townsend. But the USTA has banned the teenager from competition, saying the top ranked junior tennis player is too fat to play. Yes, you read that right.

Serena Williams herself called the decision by the United States Tennis Association “a tragedy.”

The Chicago-born tennis prodigy, 16, who is part of a four-year-old USTA-funded development program, is the world’s No. 1 junior girls player, the reigning junior Australian Open singles champion and the junior Wimbledon doubles champion. But her coaches and the USTA refuse to fund her anymore until she gets her weight together.

”If that happened, that’s obviously a tragedy, because everyone deserves to play,” Williams said Monday, a day after winning the U.S. Open, according to the Wall Street Journal, who broke the story last week.

Townsend played at the Open, winning the junior doubles title and reaching the quarterfinals in singles.

“Our concern is her long-term health, number one, and her long-term development as a player,” said Patrick McEnroe, the general manager of the USTA’s player development program and brother of tennis legend John McEnroe. “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.”

Townsend’s mother, Shelia, who played tennis at Lincoln University, has not discussed the situation publicly before. This week she said she’d been baffled by the USTA’s decision. “It all kind of came as a shock to us because Taylor has consistently done quite well,” she said. Her daughter, she reminded, “is No. 1, not just in the United States, but in the world.”

Williams, who just concluded a sizzling summer after vanquishing all competition with extreme prejudice, winning Wimbledon, two gold medals at the London Olympics (including the women’s doubles title with sister Venus) and now the U.S. Open, said the punishment is too harsh.
”She’s so sweet and she works so hard,” Serena Williams said. ”For a female, particularly, in the United States, in particular, and African-American, to have to deal with that is unnecessary. … 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.”
What do you think? Is Taylor too fat to play world-class junior tennis? And, if you think she weighs too much, was the USTA right for refusing to pay for her continued development? We’d like to hear from you.
Terry Shropshire

I'm a lover of words, pictures, people and The Ohio State Buckeyes. A true journalist from the soul.