Taylor Townsend has a body like Serena…and that’s a problem.

Townsend, the number one junior women’s player in the world, nearly missed a spot in last week’s U.S. Open because U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) told her they weren’t going to finance her appearance in anymore tournaments until she got into better shape.

Like many black, female athletes, Townsend is not stick-thin. At 5’6”, she weighs about 170-pounds. Despite being the top-ranked player on the junior’s circuit and winning the Australian Open earlier this year, the brass at the USTA aimed to pull the teen from the U.S. Open and any other tournaments until she loses weight.

But should she?

Townsend said she was devastated when her USTA coaches told her she couldn’t compete in the U.S. Open.

“It was definitely shocking,” the teen said. “I was actually very upset. I cried. I was actually devastated. I mean, I worked really hard, you know, it’s not by a miracle that I got to number one. I’m not saying that to be conceited or anything, but it’s not just a miracle or it didn’t just fall upon me just because my name’s Taylor.”

After her Australian Open win, the Chicago teen who now lives at the USTA center in Florida, ditched fast food and incorporated running and weight-lifting into her training routine. But the wasn’t enough for Patrick McEnroe, the general manager of the USTA’s player development program. McEnroe explained why the USTA refused to finance Townsend’s slot in the Open.

“Our concern is her long-term health, number one, and her long-term development as a player,” he explained the Wall Street Journal. “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.”

Taylor Townsend at the US OpenBut as the Bleacher Report points out, concerns about Townsend’s health didn’t prevent the USTA from allowing her to play in both the singles and the doubles competition in the Australian Open earlier this year, in which Townsend had to pull a double-header and play twice in one day.

So what gives?

According to Townsend’s mother—a former tennis player at Lincoln University—the USTA didn’t give them any specifics as to why her daughter was denied.

“I actually asked them if they would give me some specifics so that I can help facilitate helping her to understand what they were doing and the reasoning behind what they were doing,” Shelia Townsend told ABC News. “I never was able to get it.”

Instead, Townsend’s mother did what any committed parent would do: she paid the entry fees and financed her daughter’s way into the U.S. Open. With mounting pressure and amid the ire of her coaches, Taylor lost in the semi-finals, but brought home the double’s title with her partner, Gabrielle Andrews, making it her third Grand Slam doubles title this year.

While the McEnroe later said the USTA’s refusal to fund Townsend’s birth in the U.S. Open had “nothing to do with weight; it has nothing to do with body type,” they have decided to reimburse Townsend’s mother, calling the entire situation a “miscommunication.”

Hearing of Taylor Townsend’s predicament conjured of thoughts of Serena and Venus Williams.

For years the sisters and their father have alleged that the USTA continuously overlooked racist incidents, and when the sisters first burst on the scene, Serena was seen as fat, out of shape, and too big to be a serious athlete (and the comments on many articles mentioning Townsend suggest the same).

If Taylor Townsend was overweight and unable to compete on the court, then I would agree that she needs to take some time off and focus on her fitness. But the USTA’s insistence that the teen lose weight, despite the fact that she’s the top ranked player in the world and is playing well (and many of the sport’s legends are outraged at her treatment), shows that some don’t quite understand that not all black women can simply fit into the stick-thin, cookie cutter mold of their mostly blonde competitors.

  • a

    Would pull her out. I would. Serenas father trained them st home just bc of this reason.im not having my daughter bulimic so she can be sick and not b blessed with her own body type just to play. Nope.

  • Chillyroad

    I am a black woman and not built like Taylor Townsend. She has about 25 lbs on me and is an inch taller. Black women’s bodies come in all different sizes. Really, they do. I dont feel it necessary to defend every woman’s body type simply because they are black. Personally, I wouldnt want to wake up and be Serena’s size. If Venus were shorter, I would want to be shaped like her. Serena’s body gets the job done on the court but it shouldnt be as valued for its aesthetics like a Sports Illustrated model.

  • Chillyroad

    I forgot to add that no one should be discriminated against. If she has talent, let the girl play.

  • nona

    This is ridiculous. She’s the NUMBER ONE athlete in her sport, there’s NOTHING unhealthy about that, no matter what she weighs. Ridiculous.

  • concrete rose

    I’ve always had the same problem. (accept I’m not ranked number 1 and as accomplished as this young lady). Anyway, My body is not designed to be efficient at 5 ft 8 and 115 pounds. I am mainly gluten free, chocolate, dairy, and wheat free. However, i have to eat enough to fuel my body for school and sports. I’ve never fit anybody’s quota esp not playboy. I honestly never understood why people like my body shape (First Lady (she rocks it though!). It gathers way too much attention for all the wrong reasons at the wrong times. Every other animal in the animal kingdom just are ( I am that I am) while humans struggle to fit some standard that you have to die to get. I digress. idk

  • Jess

    If she wasn’t winning then yes by all means don’t finance her. But when she’s ranked #1?? Ridiculous, I call Bullshit!!

  • http://gravatar.com/clnmike Tonton Michel

    Fire McEnroe

  • binks

    Ridiculously, so sick of the policing of girls and women’s bodies. I call B.S. too!

  • jamesfrmphilly

    fruits, nuts, grains and vegetables…….

  • anthony

    The tennis federation is really looking stupid this time. Taylor Townsend is clearly a thick, mesomorph sort of athlete. She looks to be in great shape to me, and no one can play a game as aerobic as tennis without being in great cardiovascular condition. There is no need for her to look like Maria Sharapova to be a great player. To be honest, at age thirty, Serena is much more thick and muscular than Townsend (I honestly think that if Serena were a powerlifter, she would easily squat and deadlift over 500 lbs, Earl Campbell would have jealous of Serena’s thighs!)

    In case anyone thinks I am down on Serena or young Ms. Townsend, I am not. I have a ten year old who is already 5′ 3″ and 115 lbs. who is a heck of an athlete herself!

  • LaNubiana

    What on earth are you saying? Your statement above is full of contradiction. First you stated that we (black women) come in different sizes and in the same breath your suggesting that Serena’s body doesn’t have the right asthmatics for sports illustrated? According to whom? By who’s standard?

    Bloody hell! Tyra Banks body didn’t have anything to do with sport yet it was on the cover. Taylor and Serena’s jobs isn’t to model rather play tennis, and I must say they are brilliant at it.

    In addition, what is wrong with defending someone because they are black? Whether you want to admit it or not, the odds are against us in the global stage. So, if we aren’t to support our own, who else is going to do it?

    Lastly, Taylor is #1 in the US and WORLD in her age group and she is only 16. She has not yet done growing. That’s a bloody hell of an accomplishment for a young girl, much less a black girl in a primarily white sport such as Tennis. As we put forward the consideration that she may be ‘big bone’ in aesthetics, this should cause for one to contemplate that this perhaps is her best performing weight and shape. Aesthetics doesn’t scale/gage endurance or stamina. If you are familiar with Tennis, you would know the top female players were what USTA considered ‘over weight’ aesthetically. That includes Serena Williams, Victoria Azarnka, Lindsay Devonport, etc.. On the other hand aesthetics players such as Anna Kournikova while being famous for her looks, she goes down in history as one of the worst Tennis players with 0 singles wins.

  • http://itsoftenbeensaid.wordpress.com Sasha A.

    I agree. Being 5’6″ and weighing 170 lbs is absolutely shocking…my mouth dropped when I read that. Good for her being an exceptional athlete but baby girl needs to drop some pounds.

  • anthony

    I can only assume you are no sports fan. If you have ever watched sports like football, baseball, hockey, etc. you would know that muscular athletes often weigh more than the numbers suggested on insurance tables. Why would it be different for women athletes?

  • Georgia

    I’m 5’6″, and at 170 pounds I’m about a size 8-10. How in the world is this too large?

  • anthony

    You are 100% right. Great athletes have bodies that let them win, not look cute on magazine covers. That is especially true in a sport like tennis where the greatest players pack some serious muscle like Serena Williams or Raphael Nadal.

  • ChillyRoad


    Sorry about that. I was referring to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. I should have made that clear. Of course, Serena, Taylor Townsend and any other outstanding athlete should get their recognition by sport magazines but not fashion magazines or beauty magazines unless they are lucky enough to be both physically beautiful and athletically talented a la Candace Parker or Marion Jones.

    Lastly Serena Williams doesn’t have a black woman’s body. She doesn’t have a body that is very common among black women or any woman. Her body is very unique. The average black woman has more in common physically with the average white woman than any of us do with Serena Williams.

  • LaNubiana

    Muscle weigh more than fat.

  • http://itsoftenbeensaid.wordpress.com Sasha A.

    @anthony: I actually really enjoy sports. Well men’s sports, I don’t care too much for women’s sports except volleyball.

    @Georgia: I’m a 2/4 so for me to imagine myself at an 8/10 is nothing short of horrifying. That’s just for me however for others, including yourself, that’s just fine.

  • Ms. Information

    Muscle weighs more than fat…as a former athlete (track) I weighed 170 at 5’8 and wore as size 7/8..my waistline was a 25..what is fat about her…some of you really sound stupid.

  • http://itsoftenbeensaid.wordpress.com Sasha A.

    Ms. Info: everyone knows muscle weighs more than fat, you’re not sharing anything new under the sun. Sure I’d take the 170 in muscle over the 170 in fat but I’d much rather not take weighing 170 at all. Wearing a 7/8 for you is fine, for me it is not. There’s nothing stupid about that.

  • D.T.

    Oh cry me a river why don’t you. If an organization is shelling out big dollars to help someone reach his/her goals and dreams like that, then they have every right to make these types of stipulations. She has two choices: 1.) continue to stay the way she is and foot the bill or 2.) lose the belly. No pity from me.

    Let’s stop acting like image isn’t important. Furthermore, black women love using the excuse of us not having control over being fat. That’s a lie. Why didn’t we have these problems 50 years ago?

  • http://itsoftenbeensaid.wordpress.com Sasha A.

    I absolutely agree. I hate hearing crap like black women are built differently, big-boned and it’s what they put in the food. There is no such thing as “big-boned” and if it’s what people put in the food then nobody is forcing it down your throat. It’s called self-control. If I had my choice I’d eat cheese curls, bacon cheeseburgers and drink cherry coke all day everyday but can I turn around and blame food industries when I get diabetes and tip the scales at 170 or 200 lbs?! People are so freaking delusional and in serious denial. Let them continue to hide behind the word “thick”…

  • LaNubiana

    She is bloody 16!

    Also, your theory would be applicable to two circumstances: 1) if her performance was affected by her weight (Not that she is overweight) and 2) if she was a model or some sort of image spokesperson.

  • Ms. Information

    Being ignorant at any size is the problem. Being judgemental at a 2 or a 22 is what is wrong with some women.

  • http://itsoftenbeensaid.wordpress.com Sasha A.

    You say judgmental like its a bad thing haha. Ahh I see we’re taking the “ignorant” route to voice disapproval of commentary on a blog. Nice :)

  • Gail

    What irritates me about this is that the white standard for weight is uniformly applied to all races and fail to realize that blacks tend to have far more muscle mass than whites. So when they say a female athlete is overweight, they need to actually have a standard for blacks by which they can measure. I have numerous female friends who have tried out for Olympic competition no less who, to the whites, would have been judged as overweight, but who eat healthy, lift far more weight in gym training than their white counterparts and have a fuller but extremely muscular physique. The BMI index is such an example. Over all for the non-athlete person there are standards of weight that can be adhered to, but for athlete, it should not be used. If the person has the capability of performing at the top level, shape, height, weight should not matter. It clearly hasn’t prevented this young lady from getting to the #1 standing, and shows that she MUST have been at the top of her health to get there. Tennis is an extremely intense sport and without endurance and strength it would be difficult to compete at that level and she shows she has those very qualities necessary to do so.

    If I am not mistaken, Belgian tennis star Kim Clijsters has a fairly large physique but it is fantastic shape. Did they ask her to stop playing? No, so why the judgement against black athletes, a number 1 athlete in fact?? My thoughts are it is the dominance of blacks in sports is off putting to them and they don’t want to see another player as good as Serena or potentially better dominate and garner more attention away from non black athletes in tennis. The sport is one primarily enjoyed whites so to the tennis federation it would attract a more diverse crowd, which I am not sure is a problem, but unfortunately is one in which they would prefer to prevent. What I love about tennis is that it is such a great classy international sport that everyone globally can enjoy. It is a shame that a few people ruling at the top of the sport can’t see that.

    I wish this young lady all the best.

  • http://valsotherblog.wordpress.com Val

    And people wonder why Black women get angry; because people are always making us angry by making us deal with unnecessary crap like this. If she can play, she can play. Leave her alone.

    P.S. Clutch: Could you please put all the comments on one page again. Thanks.

  • Ms. Information

    Well…yes..you assume that being smaller is an automatic indication of health…there are different body types..there are cases where people in normal weight get cancer and all type of maladies..I am not condoning obesity..but you are confusing obesity with body type and muscle structure..my best friend is the sister of a very well known muscular NBA player…she is pure muscle, weighs 200 at 5’11 and is fit like her brother, running 5k’s and coaching basketball… you know what they say about assumptions.

  • Ms. Information

    Wonderful comment.

  • Ms. Information

    At the end of the day, we know what this is about…Venus and Serena have dominated this sport for yeeaarrrsss….the only way that they can keep us out is to come up with some cockamamie rules like this…white people fear black progress.

  • Sweetles

    Thanks for this!

  • omfg

    i’d like a source that says oracene and richard didn’t allow them to play too many junior’s tournaments and be too involved in the circuit because of weight issues. if you look at early pictures of v and serena, they were both very lean. when serena won the us open in ’99 she was not fat. i don’t think serena has ever looked like this – the only time she ever looked like this girl – with a muffin top – was during the aussie open when she beat sharapova to win. actually, i think she was a bit leaner.

    so, i’m calling total b.s. on what you’ve expressed.

    richard and oracene didn’t want them them to play juniors because of the overzealous competitive nature of the juniors circuit. and, they didn’t want the girls to be washed up and burned out like so many players.

    i suspect you really don’t watch tennis or know anything about the sport.

    please have seat.

  • omfg

    i must admit seeing these types of stories on clutch is always bizarre

    Does anyone at clutch know anything about sports, athletic endeavors, fitness, etc.

    among those who post stories on clutch, who can claim to be an athlete or are very fit/live an active healthy lifestyle? imo, seems like almost no one.

    why is there an assumption that to be a black woman is to be fat, or to use the ridiculous ignorant and ghetto expression, “big boned”? black women nowadays are large. back in the day, we, as everyone else in the united states, were much much smaller.

    it’s so annoying when black women try to use some ridiculous genetic reason to excuse away their overly ample girth and backside. no, black women in the united states are fat not because we are big-boned or just naturally fat. we are fat because we eat too much of the wrong stuff and don’t get enough activity. simple as that. get over it folks.

    black women are overly sensitive about weight issues. please stop and just lose the weight.

  • maya

    ummmm but shes only 5’6 and she weighs 170….I’m not taking away from her accomplishments but that is alot of weight for her size. Not saying that she shouldn’t be endorsed but Serena is at least 5″9 soo her weight is more evenly distributed.

  • http://theprbrownreport.blogspot.com/?m=1 The PRBrown Report

    The reality is that white America always has, a probably always will have a problem with African-American’s who are proud of who they are because they just don’t realize, recognize or understand how beautiful black really is. But then again maybe they do, after all they do spend millions of dollars a year trying to look like us. One has to wonder, if they are jealous because they cannot be us!

  • omfg


    i’m sorry but i don’t think you know what you’re talking about.

    first, i doubt you follow tennis because you don’t even know the names of the athletes. it’s victoria azarenka and lindsay davenport. no one has ever accused vika of being overweight. but lindsay definitely stepped on the court out of shape in her day.

    also, anna kournikova does not go down as one of the worse players. lol. r u kidding me? she was a top ten singles player and she actually won a couple of doubles slams with martina hingis. perhaps you mean she never won a wta singles title, which is true.

    but trust me. anna k. will not go down as the worse in history. lmao. even though her looks helped her in the endorsements category, there are many players who would love to have had the success she had on the court. she earned $3 million in prize money, not too shabby for someone who will go down as the worse. lol. totally ridiculous.

    and big-boned is just such a ridiculous phrase. when are black people going to retire this saying? it’s just so old and ignorant.

    talking about sports on clutch is just…dang. so many defensive, knee-jerk people.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    a 16 year old what weighs 170 lbs? nah.
    has anyone here checked what this child is eating?

  • omfg

    please go look at the wta website. it has the approximate weights of all of the players.

    venus – 6.1 at 160 lbs.
    victoria azarenka – 6.0 at 145 lbs
    serena – 5.9 at 155 lbs
    stosur – 5.7 at 135 lbs
    kerber – 5.8 at 150 lbs
    sloane stephens – 5.7 at 135 lbs

    with the exception of venus and sloane stephens (who also is black), all of the players listed are in the top ten. you can see that compared to the senior/elite players, this girl is over weight, by a lot.

    this may be okay for a junior, but she’ll need to get serious about her weight as she gets older if she hopes to compete consistently well against the top players. she obviously has a horrible diet and, despite the defensive protests of clutch people, she does need to lose weight.

    serena actually took time after her early round loss at the french open to get in even better shape for wimbledon and the u.s. open and i’m sure this helped her in her confidence – because she moved quite well during the entire summer swing. she was very fit.

    the only thing i can say in townsend’s defense is that she is young and sometimes young players are overweight and don’t lift weights. but she should get it together. just because you win in juniors doesn’t mean you will be great on the seniors tour. this is a well-known fact.

  • omfg

    visit the wta tour’s site. find out what the weights are for their players and you’ll see that not only is this girl overweight, she is just fat compared to her would-be competitors. i would say she’s also overweight in general.

    black women in particular are just very defensive when it comes to weight.

  • Kam

    Might I ask why you were so rude to her? Couldn’t a simple correction have sufficed?

  • Anthony

    Taylor Townsend is an elite athlete! She is not going to have the body proportions of a petite woman who is doing dance aerobics and squatting with 2 lb weights. I am sure this young woman is packing a ton of muscle in her legs, shoulders, and back. She has a little bit of a tummy in that picture, but once again, she is an athlete, not a pinup model. Her body should not be judged by the standards of a movie star or video vixen.

  • ANthony

    Although I am sure race factors into this situation, I think the majority population has a problem with powerfully built women of all races. Martina Navratilova was ridiculed because of her muscle. It is no accident that players like Sharapova or Kournikova get so much attention since they have the look of a model (although Sharapova is a heck of an athlete.) Just look at the Olympics where Lolo Jones got so much press while the more powerfullly built women who actually won were ignored.

    Probably one of the big reasons why gymnastics is popular is that it is full of tiny women who do “cute” things while sports with large and strong women are often relegated to the background.

  • Anthony

    At 160, Townsend will probably look ripped.

  • chnyere

    They are right, she is NOT IN SHAPE. The first thing I saw when I looked at the pic was her gut; when ur a serious athlete u should not have a gut (ur core is very important for controlling movement). Serena doesn’t have a gut, she is in shape and very muscular. We need to stop classifying bodies that r out of shape as typical the black women body it is MAKING US LOOK BAD!!

  • nancy

    come on guys! Let’s get over this being a rrace issue! This girl is fat. 5’6 and 170 pounds is not healthy. She is not at all like Serena who is ripped. Come on, this is ridiculous.

  • omfg

    again, visit the wta’s website.

    there are plenty of examples of height/weights of the athletes.

    at 5.6 and 170 lbs, she is pretty hefty.

    compared to others who are her height, she is not exactly fit-looking. stosur, is who very muscular, is about the same height as taylor and is like 30 pounds lighter. so is sloane stephens, who also is black.

    at 160 lbs, she’ll probably just look more normal and less overweight but not ripped. that’s a joke. how old are you?

    also, the wta is a tour of very tall girls. taylor is short for a pro tennis player. it is especially important that she is superfit. the shorter players are often very fit because they have to be. they often don’t have the weapons the bigger girls do so they have to be in tip top shape.

    at the end of the day, taylor’s mother needs to be teaching her daughter good, solid eating habits that will only help her in the future.

  • Anthony

    I guess she is out of shape the way Charles Barkley, Prince Fielder, or Babe Ruth were out of shape. Real athletes often do not fall into the fitness model mold of what America sees at fit.

  • Hehe

    I’m not that familiar with Tennis but I was reading some of the comments on this topic on another site and what I got was that the extra weight is going to affect her in the long run. Although she is on top now the weight can affect her in tennis ability in the long run and this happens quiet often to tennis players when they start gaining weight.

  • LaNubiana

    No offense but it’s hard to take your opinion seriously with your constant lol <~~ going on. After all this is a forum where we are allowed to express our opinions and this just happened to be yours.

    Have a good day!

  • Taryn

    I hope more than anything that Taylor does not read any of these comments.

  • Natalie

    I’m sorry, but how is it possible to be overweight AND a world-class athlete? Isn’t the whole purpose of not being overweight to preserve one’s health? With all her accomplishments (have you ever played tennis?!!! That’s a lot of running!) I’d say she probably really healthy.

  • ?!?

    Thank you chnyere. Why BW want to shout to the rooftops that we are “big boned” or that Taylor’s body type is typical for us is beyond me. She IS overweight, but I think she should definitely be able to play.

    Black teenage girls who eat right and get a normal amount of exercise are on average NOT built like Taylor. The majority of black girls and black women who are overweight are that way because their portion sizes are too big, and they don’t exercise enough.

    The majority of black girls in my high school were either slender or curvy. They were not this big unless they ate too much or exercised too little. The black girls in my parents’ yearbook were mostly slender or hourglass shaped. I could probably count the overweight ones in the whole high school on two hands. I can flip through my family’s photo album. The majority of young BW were slender and trim. The bigger ones were usually middle aged. And I’m in the Deep South! To me unless you are very tall, there is just no reason why a young teenager or woman in her 20s of average height with 0 kids should be 200 pounds or close to it. I don’t buy the big boned excuse for being that overweight. The only way you get to be that big is from overeating and not exercising enough to burn the calories you consumed.

    I think the only people who believe the big boned stuff are other big boned women. To everyone else, it sounds like excuse making for why you are the way you are. If you want to talk about curvy black women’s bodies, then I can see mentioning Serena. She is tall and 150 something pounds. She is curvy and very muscular. She doesn’t look big boned to me just curvy and hourglass shaped. But 5’6 and 170 is definitely overweight. I’m not saying Taylor has to look like a model. I’m simply saying that is overweight and not average for a black girl her size.

  • omfg

    it doesn’t matter if you take what i say seriously. i stated facts which easily disprove whatever you were expressing. LOL.

    you, and a few others, just decided to type without any knowledge of what you’re talking about.

    nothing i wrote here was a lie. it was all facts. i keep giving y’all web addresses and such.

  • omfg

    i was not nearly as rude as i could have been. that comment is silly.

  • kizzee29

    I really don’t feel anyone is trying to let black women off the hook, if she couldn’t play, we could talk, however, she is clearly doing something right because she is number 1 in the juniors, so why can’t she play? It really should not be the USTA’s decision for Taylor not to play, unless esthetics really are an issue, which appears to what is the underlying problem here. Why not let her play and make the the determination herself what needs to happen for her to maintain her status; more than likely, her lack of fitness will force her to self-elect into better physical fitness. As Taylor moves up in the ranks, that most certainly will come into play. Or does it just make us all so uncomfortable, either she can play well. or she can’t, this really makes no sense at .

  • isolde3

    “Oh cry me a river why don’t you. If an organization is shelling out big dollars to help someone reach his/her goals and dreams like that, then they have every right to make these types of stipulations. She has two choices: 1.) continue to stay the way she is and foot the bill or 2.) lose the belly. No pity from me.”


    If the stipulation was justifiable, then the USTA wouldn’t be retracting their statement and reimbursing Townsend’s mother for travel expenses and tournament fees. So apparently, she can stay the way she is on the USTA’s dime as long as she maintains a top ranking. . . NEXT

    McEnroe is no better than Jason Whitlock harping on Serena’s weight after she had just won her third or fourth Wimbledon title. Seriously, W.T.F.? Benching the #1 seed before a slam because of her appearance is ridiculous, and so are all of you who are sitting here co-signing this mess and taking swipes at Taylor about her physique. What part of she’s the #1 seed don’t you morons get?

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    Right…some of these comments are more hurtful than the original comment …smh how are these comments any different than the Gabby Douglas’ hair comments…oh I forget since it is weight related “fat bashing” is okay, some people really do need to sing a new tune in this debate. I wish Taylor luck and hope she continues to win because usually the same people who talk about her weight are the same ones who can’t run a block.

  • http://saidahali.tumblr.com Saidah Ali

    Okay, so since no one on here is an actual athlete….

    I’m a gymnast. Not a Gabby Douglas gymnast; a Shenea Booth gymnast. But I don’t look a damn thing like Shenea. I’m just coming out of a four year retirement, so I’m pretty out of shape, but I’m 20-ish percent body fat and I weigh 140lbs. I’m 5 feet tall. When I was thirteen and In the best shape of my life, I was 4’8″ and I weighed 110. I’ll never weigh less than 120-130 and that’s going to be after purposefully losing a lot of muscle. I’ve never had flat abs and I’ve always had a huge ass. I’m working on that now, but when I do get down to 125 with washboard abs and a tighter butt, it’ll be because I was training for appearance; it’ll have nothing to do with my handstands or cartwheels.

    Why should I care about my appearance? I mean, that’s like Gabby caring that her hair was frizzy. I’m an athlete, not a fitness model, right? I eat clean, I take dance, I take circus classes, I lift weights, I do Zuzana Light’s HIIT workouts. I’m FIT. But FIG (the international governing board for gymnastics) has a scoring category called “physical preparedness,” which we affectionately called “fat deductions.” If I don’t train for appearance as well as ability, I will ultimately lose.

    Now, I’m pretty sure tennis doesn’t give out deductions for looking heavy in your tennis skirt. But the fact of the matter is, the world expects female athletes to look a certain way, regardless of whether or not that look affects (or is even good for) their game. I disagree with this mindset entirely, but it’s like ballet; you either make yourself into the image they want to see as much as possible, or you move on too something else. Frankly, there have been rumors that Shenea, smokes, pukes, starves, does drugs and everything else under the sun to stay thin; that’s never going to be me. I want my younger teammates to KNOW I did it the right way. But at the same time, Shenea is the only black elite acrobatics top America has ever had. Which is saying something.

  • ann

    thanks this post

  • anonymous

    What part of her being 16 do some people not get? We need to stop focusing on outward appearance or else we will be raising very unhealthy young men and women. She’s a champion over her skinny counterparts and that should attest to her competence. And all those ignorant black women saying that there is nothing such as “big boned” should do a little research. You’re coming off as sad and pathetic picking on a child. Keep up the good work Taylor.

  • http://itsoftenbeensaid.wordpress.com Sasha

    I agree omfg and I’m glad you called out the muffin top because it seems to be something everyone has overlooked. Its easier for people to go the “stop fat bashing” route than to critically think and come to the conclusion that she does need to lose weight. She said herself she cut out fastfood and incorporated running and weight lifting into her workout regiment. My question is as an athlete why wasn’t she doing those things before?

  • http://itsoftenbeensaid.wordpress.com Sasha

    @Ms. Info: see now with your assumptions you’ve made an ass out of both of us, more so yourself because you by reading a couple have comments have managed to work up what I seem to think. Touche, you belong on Criminal Minds with such sharp and analytical skills. That basketball player is not Ms. Townsend so your parallel is sort of stupid. At 16 I was 5’7″ and weighed 120 lbs and was an athlete. At 16 Ms. Townsend is 5’6″ and weighs 170 lbs. I highly doubt that extra 50 lbs she has is pure muscle like you keep saying but its her body not mine. Muscle or no muscle, weighing 170 lbs may be perfectly alright for you and anybody else. With the standards I set FOR MYSELF it is not alright to weigh that much and thats perfectly fine.

  • http://itsoftenbeensaid.wordpress.com Sasha

    The most sensible comment on this thread. Its not about race, creed, nationality, ethnicity, religious belief, etc. she is fat, that’s the bottom line. Thank you.

  • Terri A.

    Great article! This type of behavior needs to be exposed.

  • Janaè

    But you look big as hell on your picture though.

  • http://itsoftenbeensaid.wordpress.com Sasha

    Haha nice one Janaè!!

  • Joseph

    I think Britni Danielle who wrote this article is crazy for writing “Taylor Townsend has a body like Serena…and that’s a problem.” This proves that she does not know what she is talking about.
    170 for a 5-6 lady is too much and she does not have the muscle mass to account for the weight. I think it is wrong for the USTA to have not paid her entry fees initially based on this only
    since she is the #1 ranking Junior in the world. Once again.. the author doesn’t know what she is talking about and she has clearly not seen Serena Williams.

  • Janaè

    Black women do this to themselves .
    One minute we’re whining about people judging us harshly than the next minute you have BLACK WOMEN ripping each other to shreads. The comments on this post and others prove this.

  • Janaè

    I agree. These are the same people who probably bullied other kids when they were younger and as adults they are doing the same damn thing. These same folks get up in arms about OTHER people ridiculing THEIR looks.
    As far as hair…. lol. Why do you think weave and relaxers and bleaching is so prevalent amoung us? If this girl miraculously turned into a beauty queen overnight, they would still find something wrong with her.

    No matter how much black women claim to shun european beauty standards, BLACK WOMEN are the biggest enforcers of it.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    “I eat clean”

    that’s what counts……

  • omfg

    what qualifies a person as an athlete?

    if you’ve run a few marathons and train for bicycle centuries or triathlons, i’d say you are an athlete. this is me.

    again, this is not purely about looks. you may feel that losing extra weight will be about vanity and you offer these ways that you are pursuing your goal – without a trainer or nutritionist – but that doesn’t mean that in other sports, weight/fitness doesn’t impact performance. this is particularly true for people who are involved in sports where lots of running is involved.

    as an “athlete”, i’d expect you to know this.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    having just watched the US Open……while home gurl is too fatt, IMO, if they giving out style points there are a lot of ugly white girls playing tennis. just saying…

  • isolde3

    “At 16 I was 5’7″ and weighed 120 lbs and was an athlete.”


    Really? What grand slam (junior or otherwise) were you playing at? What was your world ranking at 16? . . . And you don’t even know how ridiculous you sound comparing yourself to the world #1 junior tennis seed.

    “With the standards I set FOR MYSELF it is not alright to weigh that much and thats perfectly fine.”

    When you make comments like this . . . “Good for her being an exceptional athlete but baby girl needs to drop some pounds,” and try to put yourself in the same league as Taylor (reminiscing about your supposed glory days at age 16, like it even compares to Townsend’s), you’re not merely applying your standards to yourself, no matter times you want to backtrack. So if anyone was the first to make whack-@ss assumptions about how much weight she needs to lose, this, that, and the other, it was you. I’m sorry, what are your credentials in the fields of medicine, nutrition, tennis, physio-training and the like? I mean, are you a former tennis pro or have you come anywhere close to attaining the success in athletics that Taylor has? Oh, I get it. You’re probably just concerned that Taylor won’t be able to defend her ranking points after the deductions for having a high BMI right (LOL)?

  • isolde3


    I don’t know much about the acro COP, but I’m not shocked that the FIG has “physique standards” for acro. So, you were a top, when you were 13? Are you in a group now or a mixed pair? Good luck to you.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    i think everyone bones are about the same size

  • isolde3

    I don’t know what to make of the racial slant on this piece. There’s not much of an argument supporting the assertion in the title, except for this line,

    “and when the sisters first burst on the scene, Serena was seen as fat, out of shape, and too big to be a serious athlete”

    . . . which isn’t sourced and may not even be true because I know I don’t remember Serena’s weight being scrutinized by the media until after her ACL injury and her sister died, which was when she noticeably put on weight. I doubt Sloan Stevens, Asha Rolle, Shenay Perry, Asia Muhammad, etc. ever got called out for their weight when they were juniors, and they’re all black and were probably USTA sponsored at one point or another. I doubt that Townsend’s doubles partner has ever received such scrutiny either. So, it’s not really “black women’s bodies” in general. It’s this particular black girl’s body. Now, if Townsend was the first to ever receive such a rebuke, then I’d agree that it was racist, but unless that’s the case, then there needs to be more of a context for me to support the racial allegation made here.

  • Hehe

    I don’t know what to make of the racial slant either. I’m not using the word fat to describe Taylor Townsend but she is overweight for her height. Also her USTA coaches told her she needed to be in a certain body percentage so I’m guessing it’s not about aesthetics but her longevity as an athlete. Extra fat isn’t affecting her ability now but it can be hazardous on her joints which can be detrimental to her abilities in the future.

  • paul


    This discussion is hilarious.

    Addressing the slant of the article, I don’t thinks it’s about black women’s bodies, it’s probably more about sabotaging to black women’s dominance in tennis.

    Tennis like all sports is primarily a business, most of the money it makes, is made off the court.

    In a nutshell –

    They can make more money with white winners than black one’s.

    I’m no tennis fan so this analysis could be easily refuted by those in the know. But, superficially, that’s what it looks like to me.

  • Ms. Information

    Guys it makes no sense to argue with someone who doesn’t understand genetics and muscle structure…everyone is not meant to be the same size and weight…everyone is meant to be healthy…everyone is an individual. I can tell that Sasha is young..life will teach her though..no need for me to do it. Being skinny means nothing with an ugly heart.

  • Lady P

    Hmm…with this situation, I’m leaning towards “the best” outcome for the athlete, her goals and desires. This is the world of an athlete. It is not right, but the rules and regulations for the requirements constantly changes for the athlete to qualify/ compete and especially at a higher level. If a sport is not saturated with minorities, once they begin to excel; more changes are implemented. You have a Venus and a Serena, but more [not] so slender structured BW are participating. The USTA don’t like the “look—body type”, but realized it is best to coined this as a miscommunication to avoid an uproar. To deny her because of weight issues is preposterous. She has the ability and is able to currently compete; she should be allowed to do so.

    Ms. Taylor being a young athlete with futuristic aspiring goals as a tennis player; in order to arrive to the next level, she will have to strive for a healthier lifestyle just as any other athlete would. The less weight (depending on your sport-position) and healthy eating habits are prerequisites for becoming a better athlete. In addition, Ms. Taylor is 16. By the time she becomes older, she will be better prepared to compete in the future by starting now (especially if the weight requirement officially changes).

    I do agree the USTA need to understand all athletes can’t be a “Slim Susie”. As far as Ms. Taylor to become the best she can be and to obtain her goals; if it is toning up and eating healthier, then I hope she does so. It would be great to have the Venus and Serena legacy continue.

  • Kjo

    5’6 and 170?? #1 ranked junior tennis champ or not, she’s a fattie. she shouldn’t be expected to be stick thin either, but good lord there’s a happy medium in there, somewhere. i’m 35 years old, 5’5 and 137 and i’m hardly as active as she is. in fact i think i need to drop a few pounds..but we’re not talking about me.

    drop some poundage little lady, and you’ll soar.

  • Pingback: Number one junior women’s player Taylor Townsend told to ‘lose weight’ by U.S. Tennis Association | theGrio

  • http://gravatar.com/pocketsizednegro Courtney**

    All this talk about “health concerns” and not a single paper to back it up. 170 at 5’6″ is technically overweight according to BMI… which, while useful for some purposes, I mostl disregard as a whole lot of bunk. Look it up.. BMI has no real medical or scientific basis behind it. It’s based on one random white dude’s opinion of what looks “normal” at certain heights and weights with 0 regard for bone density (HIGHER in black people), muscle mass (HIGHER for men), build, etc. Does she have high cholesterol? Blood pressure? Diabetes, heart disease? You can’t just randomly point to a height and weight and say that someone is unhealthy. From what I’ve read, there’s not a single piece of evidence that she is UNHEALTHY. And if she’s physically active enough to kick butt in tennis, I’m going to bet that her cardiovascular health is better than 99% of most Americans.

    If people can be naturally underweight, then why can’t people be naturally overweight? Some people are just bigger, period. I look much smaller than my BMI suggests, because although I’m barely 5’1″, I’m a pear-shaped woman and I have muscular thighs and calves. At my so-called “ideal” weight, I look emaciated. Until someone actually provides an iota of evidence that this girl’s weight has actually caused her health issues, everyone judging needs to STFD and STFU.

  • http://gravatar.com/rastaman1967 Rastaman

    The bias on display by the USTA is that they withheld funding for the top rated junior women’s player and then gave a half ass explanation. For that alone Patrick McEnroe should be heavily criticized. Whatever opinions they had about the player’s physique and conditioning is something that should have been able to be handled privately. In my limited opinion, Taylor Townsend is probably not as physically fit as she needs to be but in watching major women’s tennis she is not alone.

    Other than the top 4 or 6 women players in the world most will never come close to winning a major championship. Either they are not skilled enough, fit enough or a combination of both. Many have gotten to that level based on their athleticism or their skill but cannot put it together to make that jump to the next level. It is a shame because when you view many of the early rounds of the majors you see players who should not be in the competition and are there primarily to round out the numbers not because they have any chance of ever winning. The wide disparity in skill and fitness between the top players and the rest of the field is undervaluing the whole women’s game.

    The tennis establishment’s history with the Williams’ sisters will make it hard for them to be given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to how they relate to black players on any issue. The dearth of top American tennis players is stark proof of their failings in developing and nurturing youth talent to the professional levels. Major tennis today requires top flight athletes with skill I doubt they will find many of those on the country club circuit.

  • au napptural

    Lord have mercy. I Googled the shot in case my eyes were broken. The girl looks smaller then me and def. in better shape. I’m 5’7 and weigh 135. She’s not a twig with a six-pack- big deal. I thought it was about your skill level, not your cover girl potential. And anyhow she looks great!

  • http://clucth kenny

    It is sad to see that as talented as some people are they have to be judged by what some one else says is normal. You might not want to here this but GOD made her this way and gave her the ability to do what she is doing. Patrick McEnroe has never won anything it is a travisty for someone who only has money to bacck him too make these kinds of decissions concerning such a prolific tennis player.Let us not be naive about our race relation it has not gone away their are still hatere in powerful places (P.McENROE)

  • Anthony

    If you knew nothing about Townsend, and only saw her picture, I doubt if you would have guessed that she is 5′ 6″ 170 lbs. She has a bit of a stomach, but she is not especially fat. The point I have been making is that this young woman has the body of an elite athlete, which means she likely has greater muscle density than the average woman. She is probably someone who has a mesomorph body type, which means that although she can build muscle easily, she will probably always have a layer of fat too.
    She cane reduce the fat, but she will not have lithe, “athletic” looking body. We need to understand that people come in all sorts of shapes, and that great athletes can come in many shapes too.

  • Egypt

    This being somewhat sensitive subject matter, I would definitely say that, Black women are just tired of being sick and tired. Black women’s body has long been the subject of humor and objectivity. Considering the overall images that white & skinny are more desirable, I can see why people are upset. Heck, having large lips and a backside weren’t even considered desirable until Kim K. and Angelina Jolie showed up. Now, everyone is trying their best to cop a pair, as if were a new fashion statement. All the while, Black women have had these features for centuries, and not once were they considered desirable. So I totally understand why Black women are upset, it’s a historic battle that has deep rooted issues in slavery, inferority, and socioeconomics .

    With that being said, obesity is still an issue–not only with Black women, but Americans as a whole. Why does this seemed to be confined to Black women only?

  • nona

    Thanks for your totally irrelevant opinion.

  • http://fromthoughtsintowords.blogspot.com/ rkahendi

    This is ridiculous. I am so glad Sheila Townsend went ahead and paid her daughter’s way. McEnroe and co ended up looking like fools.

  • nona

    I’m 5’6″ and healthy (healthy BMI, low body % percentage) but that doesn’t mean I can’t see more to her weight than just “she’s a fatty.” We have no idea how much of that 170 lbs is muscle mass and not fat. Looking at photos of her on google images, she looks toned and fit.

  • nona

    Thank you. So many of these comments seem to know nothing about actual health and body density as the spout off about their hw stats.

  • omfg

    exactly joseph. i totally agree.

  • omfg


    you are right. i believe serena played after the u.s. open, months leading up to the us open when she beat pova.

    she was ridiculed for being so incredibly out of shape. i remembered watching a match against jankovic where she could not get to the ball because she was just a mess.

    she lost a bit of weight i believe in time for that amazing aussie run where she be maria s.

    but, asha rolle has been scrutinized for being rather overweight. i remember this from a couple of years ago.

  • http://valsotherblog.wordpress.com Val


    I certainly can’t argue with you there. Except I would add that ‘some’ Black women do that, not all.

  • omfg

    i never said she should have been benched. in fact, none of my comments even address what happened to her. they only address the fact that she is overweight and that she should take better care of herself as an athlete who i imagine wants to contend at the senior level.

    there is a difference in statements.

  • Janaè

    A 35 year OLD woman comparing herself to a kid huh?
    You got some very low self esteem.

  • Zulu

    Some people are just down right awful! I mean we are sitting our bums behind a computer and dare to call a kid who is WINNING fat? Perhaps these were the individuals picking on Gabby Douglas’s hair.

    These girls are making history while we sit here backbiting them.

  • BoutDatLove

    First off I would like to say that this is my first time hearing about Taylor T. I didn’t understand why this (being a black blog site) would be the first blog post (about her being criticized about her weight) on Clutch to inform us (black people) about Taylor, this is very unnecessary and negative. We know that us black people do not live up to the white society standards of beauty. Why couldn’t we hear about how she is a bad tennis player, why focus an article on her weight? Secondly, you people are being really hateful with your comments about her weight. How do you know if it is her intention to gain weight and then turn it into muscle? Lay the heck off, she is going to continue to be great.

    But on another note, I think articles about black women’s body’s are making us angry like someone previously said, but I think it can have a negative affect to, it will make us angry to the point of not taking our health seriously because we will only feel as if we are only being attacked, even if someone us do really need to make a change.

    At the end of the day be healthy inside and out. When you are talking care of yourself, it is never our job to worry about the judgements that others make about our outside appearance. Embrace your bodies and embrace your appearance and rock that ish till you can’t rock it no more.

    I’m excited to see what this girl can really do, if she is this great she is going to be exceptional.

  • lisa

    In case you missed this in July. The brouhaha over an Australian Olympic swimmer’s body.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    “GOD made her this way”

    nah, it was micky D…….

  • clayton

    Not a weight issue,but a domination issue the tennis world is ruled by two black big bone , healthy sisters(names need not be mentioned lol) but I will V and S Williams, and now we are talking about a possible third Ms.TT. Not if the usta can help it, but keep slammin Ms.TT winners, play hard and win hard and celebrate even harder. losers wiil……

  • Natalie

    The girl is only 16. Serena is 30. If you knew anything about athletics, especially professional athletes, you would understand that it takes years and thousands of dollars worth of training to build the muscle mass Serena has now. I’m pretty sure that at 16, Serena had a similar body, maybe a bit taller, but still the same build.

    This girl is new to the world of professional tennis, she’s not going to have the same amount of muscle mass. She doesn’t even have the funds to invest in that sort of training yet. But she does have the unique skill and talent and that’s all that matters at this point.

    If you compare Kobe Bryant in 1996 when he was 17 and decided to go pro to Kobe now, you would see a big difference in his build. Same thing with Lebron. Their profession team or organization invested in the training they needed to build their physique thus enhancing their skill and talent. This is also the same reason why football players do not go pro straight out of high school; their four years of college football builds the physique they need to compete in the NFL.

    So basically, all I am saying is that the girl is young, and even without years of intense professional training, her skills in tennis are amongst the best in her league. Her body is very similar to Serena’s and if she keeps it up, you’ll be proven wrong in a few years.

    Her physical appearance (because that’s all it is. None of you are doctors, and even if you are, you have not examined her to make any sort of valid conclusion) should not be an issue and it would be very ignorant to assume she is “overweight”. So please, all of you, STFD. Thanks.

  • Natalie

    You are very useless. I am sorry, I’m might be judging you from just this one comment, but given the context, it is strong evidence towards the fact that you are very useless.

  • libpatriot

    Here is the real problem with this lovely young lady. On the tennis she will be like Mike Tyson at 21 in a boxing ring. (An unbeatable champion) No one on this planet would want to compete with such physical superiority, so let;s just make say cruel and hurtful things like they said to Gabby Douglas.

    Women’s tennis is being like the NBA, and thats the problem for others. No more Asian, European or Latin tennis stars. Just like track and field competition at the Olympics. I thought it was homecoming at Howard. LOL

  • Lela

    They just don’t want another black woman ruling in tennis!

  • B

    GMAB, not everything is a race issue, tennis player or not she looks way out of shape, HTF are you playing a sport like tennis and sporting a gut?. *SHRUGS*

  • B

    Wow, for such a reasonable comment to get so many thumbs down says a lot. This fat acceptance among us as a people is killing us, for anyone to truly say this woman is fit and not clearly overweight is ridiculous. You all do know that playing denial and defensive doesn’t really accomplish anything, right?

  • Natalie

    This comment doesn’t make sense. Did you read the article? Did you google her? Obviously, she’s not only playing tennis, but she’s playing it very well at an elite level. Soooo, I guess it is very possible?

  • Egypt

    I understand what you’re saying, but I think (for the most part) the obsession over white standards of beauty is merely a reaction to mainstream ideals. What better way to cripple a people than to tell them they are inferior.

  • Egypt

    @ Joseph

    Why must we always criticize the author, if there’s an opinion we don’t agree with…it’s her opinion.

  • omfg

    she’s not playing at an elite level. she’s playing at the top of the junior’s.

    elite/senior level is up there on the wta tour with serena, azarenka and the real big girls.

  • http://saidahali.tumblr.com Saidah Ali

    Hahaha. I was never a top. I was a base from day one. I wanted to be, but I was always way too stocky and buff. It was never going to happen. But I trained with Shenea, and I wanted to be her. Right now I’m looking for a new women’s pair top.

    Thanks for the luck.

  • http://saidahali.tumblr.com Saidah Ali

    The only point of my “athlete” comment was that there’s a major difference between someone who trains every day, all year long, and someone who plays slow-pitch softball or ran a 5k last year. Period.

    And, frankly, what we’re talking about are two separate things; physical fitness and athletic appearance. They are not one and the same. I’m sorry. I don’t need to be super light, because I’m super powerful; my weight is in muscle. I AM physically fit; I just don’t have Nastia Luikin’s body type. I’m supposed to crucify myself because flattening my ass would require starvation and I’m not interested?

  • http://saidahali.tumblr.com Saidah Ali

    You’re right; eating clean DOES count for a LOT. But a lot of athletes don’t understand this, and a lot of athletes don’t need to eat clean to achieve the “athletic” look. I know a lot of gymnasts who eat whatever they want because they think it’s about calories. They don’t gain weight, so everyone thinks it’s fine. My high school cheers squad used to host spaghetti dinners for the football team (talk about BS), and they would eat almost a quart of that (each). lol. Not clean. There’s a prevailing thought among less informed athletes that as long as you burn the calories, the quality of the calories doesn’t matter. And a lot of coaches and parents feel that they’re “depriving” their hardworking athletes by not allowing them to eat whatever they want. This obviously doesn’t work for everyone (see Taylor Townsend), but it tends to be practiced by most.

  • http://saidahali.tumblr.com Saidah Ali

    I love that people give this a thumbs down. hahaha. Bones are not the same size, but they don’t vary enough to change body type (or weight) significantly. For what its worth though, the more you work out, the bigger your bones probably are. lol.

  • http://saidahali.tumblr.com Saidah Ali

    OMG. I was a gymnast for almost 20 years; when I was 19, I was technically “obese” for my height AND I didn’t have enough body fat to get pregnant (don’t ask my why I was trying). It’s called muscle. Which is not always visible. Seriously, people. The stupid scales they rate you on at the doctor’s office are totally BS and don’t apply to every body type (and believe it or not, there ARE different body types, that are precluded by race). Christ.

  • JNique27

    You need to quit, B. How dare you say she looks out of shape and EVERYTHING IS a RACE ISSUE.

    You got a lot of nerve. Thanks for promoting black women and girl’s eating disorders. Here is a young lady that is in better shape than most Americans, and because she doesn’t have abs like some hollywood model or actress she’s declared unhealthy.. Since when did fitness have anything to do with six packs or the lack thereof? I know a whole lot of folks who abuse alcohol, cigarettes, let’s not even mention having sex without condoms…and we are going to talk about a young black woman’s gut…disgusting.

    Last time I checked a whole host of famous Black women and otherwise have eating disorders and serious issues with food. It’s enough that Black women have to deal with racism and sexism from the world, but then other black women want to talk about their weight!!! No wonder black women remain oppressed!!!! And you ain’t helping!

    btw, what standards do you understand or determine one to be healthy? enuf said

  • Ravi


    Serena is a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition model.


    favorite issue of all time.

    she has a much better body than Candace Parker or Marion Jones. Marion Jones was on performance enhancing drugs that eliminated all curves and Parker is just tall and skinny. Great athletes, but neither is coming close to Serena. Serena has the absolute best body in professional athletics. perfect combination of fitness and voluptuousness.

    Serena’s body is pretty common among black women that I have seen and know personally. It’s not that unique at all. Candace Parker has an extremely unique body, but Serena is fairly common.

  • Ravi

    Taylor Townsend has a body that is nothing like Serena Williams’. They are both outstanding black tennis players that aren’t skinny, but the similarities end there. Serena is 4 inches taller and 10 lbs lighter. She is more muscular and curvier.

    That weight is even an issue when your play isn’t makes absolutely no sense. If she wins then she wins. This whole situation is just stupid.

  • Hehe

    @Saidah Ali

    That’s the reason I mentioned body fat percentage. Her coaches wanted her to have a certain body percentage not just loose weight.

  • http://saidahali.tumblr.com Saidah Ali

    haha. Sorry. I missed that. I got a little excited. lol.

  • http://gravatar.com/oneoutofbillionz oneoutofbillionz


    First off Black women are not condemned to be out of shape.

    She does look out of shape. She may be the best but when you are working in an organization that is training you and putting money in you I think you are expected to be at your full potential and it seems as if the tennis organization wants her to be at that. That probably means they want her to look MORE like Serena– full of muscles.

    It wasn’t until after she won the Australian Open that she decided to cut out of fast food and incorporate running and weight lifting in her training. It sounds as if the organization isn’t “playing anymore” and wants her to no longer look at this as “something fun to do as a kid”. But rather “a career”, “a potential legacy”, and of course “$$$$$”.

    To me they are bumping heads at a cross point between kid years and adult years.

  • ChillyRoad


    Your comments are immature. Does diabetes and hypertension enforce Euro-standards of beauty? Now if black women bleach, relax and weave because of criticism of hair and skin wouldn’t anorexia be common among us since we hear so much about how fat we are?

    Townsend doesn’t need to lose a whole lot of weight. What she probably needs is a better diet and training for the duration of her career. No one benefits from extra weight. Her problem is extra weight.

    Can any of you make a case for her keeping it on? No.

  • Ravi

    while 5’6″ 170 may not be optimal, 5’7″ 120 is way underweight for any decent athlete in pretty much any sport. If you have any passable amount of muscle mass that is way too skinny to be of any use in sports. Elite distance runners usually aren’t that skinny.

    To critique someone else when you were so far away from any sort of optimal weight seems a bit misplaced.

    BTW, muscle doesn’t weigh more than fat, it’s more dense than fat. a pound of muscle and a pound of fat weigh the same thing — a pound. Weight isn’t a characteristic of materials. Muscle can weigh anything depending on the volume. A person with a higher body muscle % will weigh more than someone of the same size and volume. Being fat is about volume, and body fat%. Taylor Townsend can lose body fat without losing weight. Her weight doesn’t need to drop in order for her to achieve an optimal body fat%. Thus, Taylor doesn’t actually need to shed any pounds even if it would be helpful to reduce her body fat%.

  • http://aol ed

    Somehow Babe Ruth comes to mind, lol.

  • isolde3

    “She does look out of shape.”


    . . . because you can tell how fit someone is based solely on how they look (eye-roll).
    “She may be the best but when you are working in an organization that is training you and putting money in you I think you are expected to be at your full potential and it seems as if the tennis organization wants her to be at that.”

    So being the best means Taylor isn’t being at her full potential, or is that the other juniors need to gain weight to be ranked #1 like Taylor, (so they can be at their full potential), seeing as that Taylor is currently junior #1 and they aren’t.
    “It sounds as if the organization isn’t “playing anymore” and wants her to no longer look at this as “something fun to do as a kid”. But rather “a career”, “a potential legacy”, and of course “$$$$$”.

    Oh, so you know that Taylor doesn’t want to pursue tennis as a career for money and “a potential legacy”. You also saw the letter in question and know the particulars of what it “sounds” like, even though Taylor’s own mother, Sheila, said the letter was vague and that when she got in touch with the USTA to ask for specifics, they provided none.

    “I actually asked them if they would give me some specifics so that I can help facilitate helping her to understand what they were doing and the reasoning behind what they were doing,” Shelia Townsend told ABC News. “I never was able to get it.”


  • M. McMorris

    While it is true that Americans generally have a warped view of women’s bodies combined with ignorance of what fitness looks like, a pertinent question here is “What does tennis have against women?” The whole ridiculous grunting issue (how loud is too loud?, how many grunts is too many? Making noise is SO unladylike) cemented the tennis powers-that-be firmly in 1912, not 2012. We shouldn’t be surprised at their attitude. Besides,she’s 16 & still growing up. I honestly can’t imagine how any teenager competes in public these days. They’re far braver than I would have been.

  • Natalie

    You must not be a good athlete.

    It’s actually a very big investment financially and physically to train for tennis. Training for any elite sport and to compete at the international level is very intense and expensive. Heck, even training to compete against high school students at a national level is expensive!

    When I say training, I don’t mean learning how to hit the ball “better”, being more consistent with free throws, or catching the ball. I mean resistance training, strength and power building, drills for agility, flexibility, and for a good athlete it will costs a lot of money to buy a trainer in your sport and access to the equipment to do all of that. But again, you’re obviously not a good athlete so you wouldn’t know.

    Just google the costs of playing tennis at an elite level and you will find quotes how much it costs for training, not coaching, just training.

    And I bet Serena would not have that muscle mass at 30 if she was not still competing. Maybe you are able to retain muscle mass easier at 16, but that doesn’t mean you will have more of it than someone who’s 30 and been building it for the past 14 years.

  • jinx

    Didn’t have time to read through all of the comments but has someone mentioned the fact that the BMI scale is currently being reviewed to accommodate minority men women and children ? This was written about extensively in an issue of Essence magazine.

    Also, I started playing tennis at the age of 10 and before I played I was very overweight I started to slim down a bit my muscle mass increased giving me a large but toned appearance. And even the BEST players in our city league ( AA women) were “overweight” I admit we do carry weight very differently and our genetics and age HAVE to be considered. All of the girls I played with were in puberty and our whole appearances changed drastically through the years.

    I believe Ms. Townsend is slightly overweight for her height, she should be 150-160 lbs. I’m 5’5 age 24 and 174, and I need to lose 24lbs to be in the safe zone. Fat percentage is probably the culprit in this situation.

    The USTA is a bit wrong for not to consider puberty and genetics with her and I’m happy her mother stepped in and paid!!! Thank God for Momma! I’m sure we’ll see her in the future. Keep your head up young lady!!

  • Anthony

    On what basis are you assuming that Taylor Townsend has a poor diet? How do you she is not training well and eating well? The truth is that everyone will not look like aa fitness trainer no matter how hard they work out and diet. Given that this young woman is #1 ranked in US Amateur Tennis, it is a safe bet that she is working very hard already!

  • Shell

    I agree with you 100%. According the the picture above she would not be considered to be in tip top shape. It has nothing to do with race. I guarantee you if she got into better shape she would be much faster and powerful than lugging around unhealthy fat.

    Venus and Serena never had a pugy belly poking out of their outfits. people were upset at their athletic bodies. Belly fat isnt cute….Yall need to stop acting like its ok. because it isnt. She didnt have a baby, she was eating too much fast food.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    i call it ‘burger belly”………

  • jamesfrmphilly

    does anyone here know what this child eats?

  • omfg

    probably typical american diet: fast food and soda and anything processed…

  • omfg

    in fact, one of the things attributed to v and serena is the physical quality they brought to the women’s tour – faster running, bigger hitting, and fitness, etc.

    the williams sisters were regarded as big but certainly not fat. they were thought of as big and powerful and strong…. and intimidating. i’m sure the blackness didn’t help with all of that either…

    this is nothing like venus and serena. she’s an altogether different case.

    serena has had her moments of being overweight cuz i just think she will let herself go at times. i once came across something that said venus likes to workout and maintain fitness, but serena doesn’t. this was a long time ago, before she came back and beat sharapova at the ao.

  • omfg

    i doubt babe ruth could compete with today’s baseball players…lol.

    also, taylor is a junior. she is not a senior level player. totally poor comparison.

  • Leonard Smalls

    Interesting comment; however, allow me to add the following:

    (i) I second that inquiry;
    (ii) although a lot of Colored women are Townsend’s size and larger, I think that it may be erroneous logic to dictate that Townsend’s figure is indicative of “the Black body” and it may be more accurate to state that overweight Colored women have Townsend’s figure (or lack thereof);
    (iii) Colored women that have Townsend figure needs some trimming; and
    (iv) if she wants the sponsorship, then she must adhere to the legal wishes of her sponsors.

  • Leonard Smalls

    I fail to see the probative value contained in your Babe Ruth reference. Please advise.

  • http://gravatar.com/oneoutofbillionz oneoutofbillionz

    ” . . . because you can tell how fit someone is based solely on how they look (eye-roll).”

    Well didn’t i say “LOOK”?? Doesn’t “looking” involve the eye? I didn’t say she “IS”. I was only saying that she doesn’t look fit. And I say it because from “looking” at other tennis athletes she does not look as fit as them.

    “So being the best means Taylor isn’t being at her full potential, or is that the other juniors need to gain weight to be ranked #1 like Taylor, (so they can be at their full potential), seeing as that Taylor is currently junior #1 and they aren’t.”

    Wowwww. Did you really equate “being the best” to “full potential”?

    Logically, in the world of sports, the better shape you are in the better you can play. Perhaps that are FEW exceptions to the rule BUT considering the fact that this young lady is still a CHILD I don’t think it is okay to tell her coaches “stop her right there”. There comes a point in time where you are asked to take your skill to ANOTHER LEVEL. Her coaches likely want her to take it to another level regardless of her wins. If she wants to go pro and play against Serena, she has to!

    “Oh, so you know that Taylor doesn’t want to pursue tennis as a career for money and “a potential legacy”. You also saw the letter in question and know the particulars of what it “sounds” like, even though Taylor’s own mother, Sheila, said the letter was vague and that when she got in touch with the USTA to ask for specifics, they provided none.”

    She likely does want to pursue it as a career and create a brand where she makes lots of money. I didn’t say that she doesn’t and nor did I assume she doesn’t.

    And what it “sounds” like. Oh, okay. So you can say what it sounds like but I can’t say what it sounds like. Whoever is complaining about her lack of sponsorship can say it sounds like they have a problem with her weight and it’s because “she’s black” (despite them not giving specifics) but I can’t offer another point of view over her weight if indeed they didn’t want to sponsor her because of her weight?

    My perspective was simple: If indeed her weight is the issue, her coaches probably used the lack of sponsorship as a lesson that they are serious about her becoming further serious about her career. Her just NOW cutting out fast foods, beginning to run and weight lift sounds as if she has been playing tennis because no doubt about she is good at it even if she was eating junk food. NOW quickly approaching adulthood her coaches want her to change her habits and actually put in the HEALTH-COMES-FIRST-work in order to further develop her skills!

    It’s like when a teacher gets dissapointed in a student who scored a B instead of an A because they know they slacked off, yet proud of another who scored a B on the same test. It’s about believing in a student’s, in this case an athlete’s, FULL potential and having enough experience in to CHALLENGE THEM properly.

  • Leonard Smalls

    Actually, sex appeal arguably plays a prominent role in both male and female professional sports. Said sports are first in the business of making money. That being said, making money may be quite difficult when your champion has a gut and lacks sex appeal.

  • Leonard Smalls

    Please refrain from conclusory statements that lack evidentary support. Your comment arguably does not make you sound articulant, intelligent, nor insightful.

    Lastly, the “progress” that you refer to is really not progress at all. Colored people have already proven their ability to compete in the athletic arena. Actually, more enlightened Coloreds may argue that athletic “competition” is not competition at all, but merely buffoonery. Real competition takes place in the board room and on the battle field, places where the average Colored person dare not venture.

    Carry on.

  • Leonard Smalls

    Dare I be so bold as to inquire about her inability to lose that gut?

  • Leonard Smalls

    Unfortunately, this has nothing to do with color as she could just lose the gut and tone those arms.

  • Leonard Smalls

    Said plethora of fat accepting comments should not surprise one after a quick review of the average female body in the Colored community. Unfortunate, said review swould arguably reveal a sizable portion of overweight women. Hence, their acceptance of Townsend large figure is arguably an attempt to garner acceptance for their own large figure.

  • Leonard Smalls


    Unfortunately, hypersensitive Colored people always fall back on race, creed, nationality, ethnicity, religious belief, etc. when they find it difficult to support their erroneous arguments.

  • Anthony

    I don’t why Ruth couldn’t compete? Have you ever seen C.C. Sabbathia, Roger Clemons, or Prince Fielder, just to name a few heavy all star major leaguers.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    we have had seven pages of comment without any one of us knowing how the child eats. i say none of us actually know what we are talking about without that piece of information. maybe she eats badly, maybe not.

    does anyone here actually know her situation?

  • jamesfrmphilly


  • lol

    this is the 1 time i have to agree with Chilly.

  • omfg

    here’s what i will SPECULATE:

    she eats a typical american diet, which is not so healthy.

    as a 16 year old who plays sports, her metabolism is probably at its peak. it slows after a certain point.

    if she is pudgy like that with all of that running around (i don’t know how often she practices)on the court, she probably consumes more in energy (calories) than she expends.

    hence the stomach, arms, etc. it’s clearly fat and not muscle.

    i wouldn’t be surprised if, like a lot of people, she overestimates the energy she’s burning through her exercise. she probably overcompensates when she eats.

    this is how a lot of people gain weight from marathon training. they feel exhuasted and like they’ve worked really hard so they eat a lot. people say you shouldn’t use marathon training as a way to lose weight. this is why.

    she’s 16 and it’s doubtful she would know much unless she met with a nutritionist or really worked this out with her mom. she probably needs help from someone who is used to working with growing athletes to determine her caloric/dietary needs.

  • Shell

    I agree.

    With all the cardio training, sprinting, and power swinging she is doing while training she should not have no visible muscle tone or that pudgy tummy. there is something wrong somewhere. and instead of people giving her a pass because she is young and black is NOT ok.

    Its nothing about “hating” or not wanting our “own kind to get ahead” its about health and fitness. if she was more fit she would be better at her sport and healthy…..belly fat is not cute, its a sign of eating bad, and like i said before. its not like she had a baby. shes 16 and an athlete… bottom line.

    No one said she couldn’t pay. all they said they aren’t paying out of their pockets for her trips anymore. They are her employer, and she signed a contract. She says her self she has issues with getting in shape, she admitted to not being the fastest or most agile. Im sure shedding some pounds and making better food choices would KEEP her on the road to success.

  • lol


    when Serena was 16 she was leaner than this young lady is right now.

  • anon

    I find it ironic..and perhaps,racist how,they are dogging Taylor’s weight.Yet,when Jennifer Capriati played,she was 160 lbs and 5’7″ and they were no where near as hard with her weight as they are with hers.Where were the complaints? Oh, I forgot,only White women likeJennifer can get away with it.

    Speaking of curvy women,a reality show about them will be showing.From the commercials,I didn’t see any Black women on there.I was looking at those women thinking of how they were being praised for their beauty.Interesting how Ebony been praising curvy women for over 40 years with their models. Funny,how women like them are being revered for being buxom,but Black women like Taylor are being degraded for being the same.

  • Tom

    The USTA has never produced a #1 player, or a grand slam champion. Taylor will start losing weight on their advice, when they produce the above. Which the arrogant and snobbish Patrick McEnroe cannot do as the director.

  • opinionatedgal

    Once again, please don’t make generalizations about what a “black woman’s body” looks like. Women of color come in all different sizes, shapes and shades and Taylor Townsend is not necessarily representative of a “black physique.” Just saying…

  • isolde3


    Your opinion of what a fit person looks like <<<<<<<<<< Taylor’s titles, junior slam record, and world ranking
    “Wowwww. Did you really equate “being the best” to “full potential”?”

    Right, being the best isn’t fulfilling your potential. Yes, keep digging. Last I checked, Taylor was meeting the benchmarks set before her and then some (Junior Aus. Open Champ, #1 seed, Junior US Open semi’s, Junior doubles champ); so on what grounds are you basing your theory? Let me guess . . . her BMI makes her an underachiever? It wouldn’t have anything to do with that letter sent to Taylor (that the USTA has already retracted) or the USTA pulling Taylor’s funding (which they’ve already reinstated) would it?
    “And what it “sounds” like. Oh, okay. So you can say what it sounds like but I can’t say what it sounds like. Whoever is complaining about her lack of sponsorship can say it sounds like they have a problem with her weight and it’s because “she’s black” (despite them not giving specifics) but I can’t offer another point of view over her weight if indeed they didn’t want to sponsor her because of her weight?”

    Except I’m not basing my remarks on what something “sounds” like. Unlike your theories, my remarks are based on actual proof (Sheila Townsend). Try reading the quote from Taylor’s mom about the vagaries of the letter and how the USTA had no specifics to offer regarding their decision to pull Taylor’s funding when Sheila Townsend contacted them, and then get back to me.
    “My perspective was simple: If indeed her weight is the issue, her coaches probably used the lack of sponsorship as a lesson that they are serious about her becoming further serious about her career.”

    Where do you get off suggesting that she isn’t serious about her career? Furthermore, you do realize that you’re arguing a moot point, right? The letter was retracted, the USTA acknowledged the snafu as a “miscommunication,” Taylor’s sponsorship was reinstated, and Taylor’s mom is being reimbursed, not to mention that she went to the Junior US Open, made it to the semis and won doubles at the same weight as she was when that letter was written. So yes, lesson learned . . . USTA. Did Taylor's weight stop her from playing? No. Did it stop her from winning doubles and reaching the semis of the junior US Open girl’s draw? No. So, what constructive epiphany did Taylor glean from this experience other than the fact that the USTA harasses and makes idle threats against players whose bodies look a certain way regardless of their tournament record? You think the USTA enjoys this PR ish storm and being shamed into pretending as if that letter and its contents were mistakenly written or never written at all?

    All you people talking about Taylor not fulfilling her potential and how she would be playing better if she lost weight despite being the #1 seed are completely missing the point. The point is that the USTA pulled funding from its #1 prospect before a grand slam because it didn’t like how her body looked. So all that other ish you’re talking about her diet, defending what the USTA did, or what have you, is really just a bunch of derailing nonsense.

  • Pingback: Tennis and Our Problem With Black Women's Bodies | OTS Networks

  • Debra

    For the past decade, it has been written that the tennis association has been concerned about the public image of its female athletes. Sexism and racism are implicated in this. The argument is that women who are considered attractive by Eurocentric standards will always be more valuable because it will draw male audiences. That explained why Anna Kournikova who was an awful player, still got more endorsement money than better players. Sharapova (yuck!) also receives more endorsements because she is deemed to fit the image of the tennis association.None of the black women past or present meet that standard of beauty. Anyone who cannot see the racial overtones is seriously deluded.

  • Co

    She’s a 16 year old.

    Your comment, as is many others, is inappropriate due to her age.

    Let the girl play and finish growing into a grown woman of at least drinking age before you continue tearing down her self esteem.

  • Pat

    Who are these “colored” women and how many of them do you know Mr. Smalls?
    Why is is OK to denegrate a young lady who is obviously healthy and at the top of her game. This is the kind of attitude lead young girls to become anorexic and bulemic. The young lady is quite fit since she is #1. She didn’t get there from sitting on her butt all day. Patrick McEnroe’s brother John was married to Tatum O’Neal who abused drug at a very very young age. THAT is a problem. Not this young lady’s size.

  • http://www.facebook.com/EquiPro Rachel Sapyta

    Wow. I am appalled. While it’s clear that this has a racial bias, I can tell you that many “blonde” professional athletes are built just like this amazing young woman or even bigger. I, myself, was a pro-athlete for many years and I’m built a lot more like Serena. However, being big was an advantage for me. I’m going to write to the USTA immediately about this. It’s total offensive and congratulations to Townsend and her mother for ignoring those idiots and pursuing her chance anyway.

  • http://www.facebook.com/EquiPro Rachel Sapyta

    That’s a totally offensive questions. Although I’m obviously not a woman of color, I am a big, tall strong woman and I eat perfectly healthfully. This young woman is not fat or unfit. Women, like men, come in all shapes and sizes and “big and strong” is one of those. To suggest that she needs to change a thing is ridiculous.

  • Pat.

    This kind of nonsense is exactly why Venus and Serena’s dad trained them himself and kept them away from organizations such as the USTA. He raised them to be strong black women who wore braids and beads in their hair and to be proud of who they were.
    No excuses and all the comments that were made when they first started to play competitively just rolled off their backs because they were only focused on winning and not being models.
    Pity this young lady had to be under the clutches of a McEnroe.

  • Diane

    “After her Australian Open win, the Chicago teen who now lives at the USTA center in Florida, ditched fast food and incorporated running and weight-lifting into her training routine.”

    So she ditched fast food, which implies that perhaps she was eating a little too much of it. I think the USTA treatment went a tad too far but it’s not unheard of for sport organizations to do this. My younger sister plays volleyball at the college level. There is a white girl on her team who was rapidly gaining weight. The coach immediately put her on a strict diet. I guess there are a couple of takeaways…

    1) America has a problem with women’s bodies in general.
    2) Mainstream sports has evolved from simply competing to competing and selling “the image.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/EquiPro Rachel Sapyta

    Women, REGARDLESS of color, come in all shapes and sizes. I’m an amazon. At my most fit (I was a pro-athlete) I was just under 6′ tall and weighed 190. My body fat was 14%.

    By even discussing her size and shape, instead of her talent and abilities, you are all feeding into the discriminatory, sizest and racist establishment all women face.

    Do you really think that ANYONE would be having this discussion if she were male??? STOP talking about her size and weight and start applauding her talent.

  • http://www.facebook.com/EquiPro Rachel Sapyta

    People need to stop criticizing her body and start supporting her talent and ability. This is a woman issue across the board and not limited to women of color. I’m an amazon and always have been and I’ve taken a lot of flak for it over the years. Women, of all colors, come in all shapes and sizes. If, at some point SHE feels that she needs to train differently to continue to rise in her sport, then I’m sure she’ll do that. Until then, being in the #1 spot is enough.

    This would never, EVER happen to a male player. Ever.

  • Travelin Light or just “Trav”

    I’m a tennis fan, a guy who does the gym every day and am in an IR relationship.
    I saw the link to this in the root.
    The article compared her to Serena.
    Now, if you look at Serena, she has one of the most magnificent bodies in existence~~and I AM speaking about her in a health, in shape way.
    Yes, she’s really hot butt, a woman can be “hot” and out of shape.
    Do any of you realize what Serena goes through that you don’t see to be in such terrific shape?

    Ms Townsend has no definition to any part of her body which means that her body is covered by a layer of fat.

    To most here, the truth is an insult which is why you see so many “thumbs down” when someone posts the truth.

    Ms Townsend very truly needs to develop a regimen in which she will be able to reach those levels of elitism in her sport.
    She has the talent however, she must do what it takes as Serena has.
    Now, because I was honest here and told the truth, I will get the typical thumbs down.
    THAT is denial on their parts.

  • http://www.facebook.com/EquiPro Rachel Sapyta

    Holy mackeral. She is 16! SIXTEEN! Young women often carry extra fat at that time of life. It’s normal, natural and YES…HEALTHY.

    You’re part of the problem.

    You’re super fit? Great….what titles do YOU hold???

    Leave her alone. She’s not Serena. She’s herself. Everyone is different and until she decides she needs to change in order to improve (she’s already an “elite” athlete in her sport – that’s what being ranked #1 means), people need to stop judging her while sitting on their butts and typing on the computer.

  • Pingback: The Situation of Taylor Townsend: Race, Body Type, and Tennis « differenttogether

  • Anthony

    The problem is that people have a fixed idea of what an athlete looks like, and cannot accept anyone who does not fit that picture.

    In male sports I think of someone like Charles Barkley who was initially considered to be too heavy for the NBA as well as too short to play power forward. Needless to say, he eventually slimmed down although he was still a very large man, and of course he stayed a relatively short 6’6″.

  • http://www.tacklingtomfoolery.com Ms. M

    Chalres Barkley was the first person who came to my mind as well. And though his weight was certainly a topic of discussion, male athletes, in general, do not fall prey to the same judgment regarding their overall appearance. This isn’t about concern for this young girl’s health, it really is about her not fitting into a limited and ignorant standard of beauty. Clearly, she’s an excellent athlete given her record, however, it matters little because she isn’t skinny and blonde as the requirement seems to dictate. I hope she doesn’t let this deter her in ANY way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/EquiPro Rachel Sapyta

    Yes, Anthony. Exactly.

    I was a professional horse trainer and top-ranked female polo player for 15 years. I bought and sold a lot of horses. I usually looked for a certain “type” of horse that would generally give me the best performance in what I needed, but every once in a while, a horse that didn’t fit “type” would turn out to be exceptional, and this included a few that were naturally fat. I found out that, no matter what I did, I couldn’t “thin” these horses out without degrading their performance, so I stopped trying and let them be “fat”. Since I was able to accept this, I was able to get their best out of them, surprising everyone who saw them play.

    People would often comment on how fat or ugly or ungainly these horses were, and I used that to my advantage to kick their collective a$$es up and down the polo field. I sold those “fat”, “ugly” horses for a lot of money. All this because I was willing to see beyond the surface and to train them without trying to force them to be something that they were not.

    Humans are like every other animal on the planet. We come in a wide variety of appearances, shapes, sizes and abilities. The only way to judge someone’s ability is to stop comparing them to everyone else and to see what they can really do AS THEY ARE. If we support Ms. Townsend’s playing without asking her to change who she is, we might find her to be the best tennis player in the history of the game. If, however, we continue to insist that she meet our falsely conceived notions of how a female athlete should look, we may never know how far she could have gone.

  • http://gravatar.com/lajanegalt sham f-ing wow

    You know what…I think you’re right. I am a tennis fan.

    Patrick McEnroe et al. have been begging for a return to American dominance, especially once they realized Roddick wasn’t going to cut it.

    The Williams sisters have been Women’s and then American tennis’ victors from 2000 on. Especially since Davenport, Capriati Sampras and Agassi have left the game.


    I guess the excuse would be “marketability.”

    The face of American tennis is a black one. Deal With It.

    If they want Taylor to look a certain way, they need to put up the $$$. She has already put in the victories.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    “I hope she doesn’t let this deter her in ANY way”

    i hope this deters her from micky D’s……..

  • http://www.facebook.com/EquiPro Rachel Sapyta

    My daughter eats a McD’s plain hamburger with ketchup every single day. I have no problems with it. She is studying, full-time, to be a ballet dancer and she needs the protein, fat and calories. It’s quick, it’s cheap and it works for her. She’s 14 years old, 5’8″ and 101 lbs. As I said before, everyone is different. What works for you, might not work for her. Since she’s ranked #1, she’s obviously doing something RIGHT.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Angry-Black-Woman-Watch/130412426993180 eshowoman

    You think the fact that you have sex with a black woman qualifies you to judge what is healthy for a world class athlete? Your comments sound like an slave owner at an auction.

  • omfg

    @Rachel Sapyta

    she’s ranked 588 on the wta tour.

    she is ranked 1 as a junior. big difference.

  • omfg

    @rachael sapyta

    i’m so sorry for you and your daughter that you think it’s okay for her to eat mcd every day, or even at all.

    fabulous. you let your daughter indulge in hormone pumped, chemically laden foods daily. omfg. you should be so proud of yourself.

    mother knows best.

  • zed

    black men have been making the same comments…

  • BaltimoreDad

    The fact that you “go to the gym EVERYDAY” [emphasis mine] discounts your opinion significantly. Most people could not, do not and typically should not go to a gym everyday. I do not know you, obviously, but your behavior suggests a warped view of fitness, physiques and behavior. Have you seen strength competitors, boxers or football players, whose ability often outpaces their appearance? Why are you judging an athlete’s appearance instead of ability? Don’t you realize that such behavior plagues women in every profession at every level and is fundamentally unfair, not simply because men are not similarly judged, but because appearance is at best correlated with performance, and certainly not causally linked. The fixation on beauty, narrowly defined, speaks to our collective smallness of mind.

  • Renee

    I agree with you that she doesn’t have any definition and this is coming from a 54 year old black woman. I have had a weight problem for many years after having kids and working. I had had lost weight over the past couple of years, but still no definition. I started strength training about 6 months ago, with the assistance of a co-worker whose also a fitness trainer and I began to see the difference within weeks. I’ve been healthier for two years now, but the strength training improved my stamina even more than I had expected. I had been afraid that at my age I might hurt myself, and then it would take a long time to heal and I’d get discouraged but so far so good. And I’m not talking about bulking up in a manly looking way.

    Taylor may be healthy now, but she does look like she has some fat on her as well. Sure we black woman don’t care for that stick look, but it’s not about the stick look. It’s about being healthy, and while she’s winning now, her active lifestyle is a strain on the heart. If she’s overweight, or has too much body fat, or if she’s eating a lot of unhealthy food (it doesn’t have to be fast food)it will begin to take it’s toll on her at sometime. Why not start learning good eating habits now. I wish I had.

  • chan

    QON….go away you nut!

  • LP

    I think people are probably reacting to, one, that the comment really isn’t relevant to the discussion. And, two, that he leaves that comment on SO many articles about women and weight. I assume he’s a licensed nutritionist who’s stumbled across that elusive magic formula that guarantees weight loss for every person on the planet whether he knows anything about their health or not.

  • Heather

    I doubt very much that anything was done to stop Martina Navratilova and Lindsay Davenport, when they were young and very overweight, from playing on the pro tour. Much was said about Daniela Hanchukova’s lack of weight and possible eating disorders, but she was allowed to play. Marion Bartoli is chunky and playing in the top 20. There are more active pro players, men and women, that are either overweight or just not fit enough to compete at their best. So this condition placed on Tyler’s weight is totally out of order. At some point in her game, further conditioning will come. Meanwhile, let her compete and continue to hone her skills. The talk about which body type is the most acceptable is also out of order. If a body functions well, it’s all good. Some people really need to get over themselves.

  • http://www.salon1016.org beverly

    Ms. Taylor is fit and healthy enough to play rounds of tennis each day, use skills and techniques to win matches, and is ranked as a top teen player. She, her parents, and
    her physician should be the ones who determine whether or not she is fit enough to play. Her coaches are the ones to get her ready and then encourage her to always do her best. Her weight and size have no place in this equation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/purple.flesh.chunks Sade Johnson

    Madam, did you completely miss where the article stated that this young girl is the number one junior tennis player? Oh, you didn’t miss that? So, how did you get it into your mind that she is unhealthy; because I can guarantee you that to be that good you can’t be unhealthy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/hiphoppreacher4real Lucille Griffin

    Oh my goodness!!! I can’t believe this… This young woman is the NUMBER ONE tennis player in the world regardless of her size. She is mopping up the floor with her competitors and guess what? She’s still GROWING!!! BTW to all those fake nutritionistas, muscle weighs MORE than fat, period. Would you consider any other professional athlete fat if they are the number one player in the world? Can you imagine if Michael Jordan were called fat or Lawrence Taylor or even Mike Tyson. Goodness! Time to give women athletes a break. They pick on the runner from South Africa because she looks “like a man.” Now this??? It’s hard enough for Black people to be taken seriously as athletes with skills and talent but to do this to a CHILD? Disgraceful

  • BoutDatLove

    Sometimes when people constantly pick on others, a person only begins to expect criticism. Since we black people have been mostly picked on by white people, in a negative way, it is hard for us to ever believe that what they say about us to be true but only hurtful to the point when we hear something like ”black woman….” this or that, we only expect nasty things to be said. With that being said we only expect white people to tear us down and not build us up, so why should we believe that they are concerned for our health… that is all I meant. After a while we kind of think F it, it is just another one of their white beauty standards that we don’t measure up to and another one of their ploys to show how their race is obviously ”better” than our own.

  • mr.cee

    i beg to differ,my soninlaw just had a heart attack two weeks ago.he was at the top of his game and showed no signs of any health problems.hit a homerun and didn,t make it to 3rd. base before he fell.enlarged heart overweight by 21 lbs.

  • http://www.clutchmagonline.com RR

    #1 as a Junior tennis player means nothing. The USTA wants her to be #1 as a pro. She needs to develop good habits at an early age that will work to her advantage in the future. Too many phenoms get by on athleticism alone at an early age but don’t have the proper habits developed to keep them at the top. Nutrition is one of those habits.

    Never happen to a male player? Please. Maybe you’re familiar with the NFL and the number of players that are put on diets to lose weight? Try doing a little web research and find out how many male athletes are told to lose weight.

  • Ann Newton

    I am a physician and the decision as to whether Ms. Townsend is obese should be left to her physician. There are multiple tests and studies that are used to determine weight status, the first is the body mass index. Obesity associated medical problems in the black community that affect children and young adults are legion and unacceptable. It is not an issue of black bodies or white bodies. It is an issue of health.

  • Ann

    Colored? What is this, the 40′s?

  • cocochanel31

    the USTA is some crock! Tennis is NOT A SPORT FOR SOMEONE OUT OF SHAPE!Since she is that good she is clearly in some of THE BEST SHAPE!! that excuse is an oxymoron! The whole thing disgusts me! I hope the Williams sisters contact her to mentor her through that hellish ordeal smh.

  • Julie

    Out of shape my foot, the USTA wants to control it’s image of the skinny girls only club and the skimpier the outfit, the better the ratings for them. I hope this young lady goes far.

  • http://Facebook Miriam Reed

    As the number one ranked teen player in the world, Ms. Townsend is a role model for thousands, perhaps millions of young people. I don’t think it is too much to ask for her to undergo a thorough medical examination to determine her body mass index and overall health. An expert medical opinion on her weight and body size would resolve any questions about her health and whether her current size is optimal for her. If the doctors’ examination says she is fine the way she is, so be it. If the doctors’ examination determines that her health would improve by eating differently and/or losing weight, then she can be a healthier person, and perhaps an even better player by following the doctors’ advice.

  • http://www.girlsbestfriendandcoblog.com gbfandco

    I think this is an ignorant article. I believe that they want to see this girl have healthier eating habits and have longevity in her sport. This is quite embarrassing instead of having the girl change her eating habits you would rather blame the situation on racism. This has more to do with her BMI than the color of her skin.

  • http://www.girlsbestfriendandcoblog.com Thefashionistachic


  • http://www.girlsbestfriendandcoblog.com Thefashionistachic

    This article is ignorant. I believe their concerns is this girls health and longevity in the sport. She would rather complain than alter her eating habits. This has more to do with her BMI than the color of her skin.

  • http://www.girlsbestfriendandcoblog.com Thefashionistachic

    Another test

  • http://www.girlsbestfriendandcoblog.com Thefashionistachic

    This has more to do with her BMI than her skin color.

  • Melissa

    People seem to ignore the fact this girl is WINNING. If she can beet her competition at 170, then what the hell is the problem? Let the lady play because she has game. Period.

    This sport is a joke.

  • Anthony

    Really? Do you honestly think that she has been playing tennis at such a high level without regular attention from a doctor? IF she had a serious health concerns, the odds are that they would have been detected already.

  • ANthony

    I meant to post my previous comment as a reply to another post.

  • Ravi

    “I’ll never weigh less than 120-130 and that’s going to be after purposefully losing a lot of muscle. I’ve never had flat abs and I’ve always had a huge ass.”


  • Ravi

    there are many guys in the NFL with a much higher body fat% than this girl that are not questioned about their weight. while some may be put on diets, it’s a very rare occurrence where an NFL player is told they cannot play because they are overweight. The fact that you would mention the NFL when nearly every offensive line player is allowed to play while clinically obese shows that you might need to do a little web research.

  • RA

    You mean you don’t think she’s already got a healthcare provider? She surely does. And that healthcare provider has no obligation to provide the public with the “expert opinion” on her body.

  • Pingback: What I’ve Been Reading: September 16, 2012 « Refrigerator Rants

  • http://www.facebook.com/joanne.craft1 Joanne Craft

    Americans want all female to look cute. It is about appearance. They would not NEVER have done this to a male player. She is not fat, she is not thin. I’m a person who exercises many times a week, and hate the way most Americans look, fat and unfit, with stomachs hanging over their pants (male and female) and rolls of fat around their middles. It’s just unbelievable. But I would not call this teen fat. There is one standard for women in sports and one standard for men in sports (and about everything else). When you play the way she plays, there is no way she’s unfit. I hate that we all have to look like smiling, chirpy cheerleaders. Why can’t women look strong and still be feminine? I’m sick of this double standard, really sick of it. We raise our daughters to be strong individuals and when they are, we don’t like the way they look. Well, you don’t have to like the way everyone looks. News flash.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joanne.craft1 Joanne Craft

    She’s not complaining, she’s winning.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joanne.craft1 Joanne Craft

    That really is hardly the point. Do you really think they were so worried about her health? They were worried about how she LOOKED.

  • [email protected]

    no – the real reason is she is winning at the junior level where you can get away with being overweight and just out hitting the other young players. The USTA is prepared to INVEST a lot of money in top talent, however with her weight she would have an incredibly difficult time at the pro level because she would have to carry around all that extra weight all the time. That was the USTA’s message – drop the weight so you can be fit enough for the pro’s or we won’t support you (financially) any more.

    They weren’t saying she couldn’t PLAY, they said they wouldn’t PAY for her to play.

    Same thing would happen in any sport – if there was a point guard in high school that could tear it up but was 30-40 pounds overweight and was slow because of it you can bet your ass that regardless of the current level of talent, no pro team would pay for someone like that as they couldn’t make it at the pro level until they upp’d their fitness.

  • Amwaye

    First of all, this girl’s body looks nothing like Serena Williams’ body. Williams is fit, and this girl is plump. Secondly, being plump is not a black thing. Stop making black women and girls feel that it’s OK to be out of shape and unfit. It’s not OK.

  • PeppyChick

    See doesn’t look fit. I agree that if you are a professional athlete your body should reflect all that hardwork. While she may be training physicially, obviously her diet is not the best. The extra weight in her middle is unhealthy and that goes for anybody. Also, I agree that down the line she may be more prone to injury due to the extra weight she carrying.

  • mimicurious

    This article was not trying to encourage black women and girls to be out of shap and unfit. This girl is still a girl and still developing and WINNING. I’m willing to bet she is more in shape than most girls her age, black or white.

  • Wilfred Marshall

    Yall, and I did say Yall, just don’t want another Serena and Venus kicking but. Well get ready because there’s more to come. Get use to it.

  • Wilfred Marshall

    I wounder just how out of shape or you. What’s the real problem. Are you folks tired of seeing people of color dominating the sports that you thought was yours. Just for the record, Tiger Woods is the best golfer on the field. Has any one topped his record, no not even close. Oh well, live with it and move on.

  • Wilfred Marshall

    Get a life

  • http://gravatar.com/pocketsizednegro Courtney**

    Damn, it’s not like she has Santa/Buddha belly. The girl has a little layer of fat around her mid-section and people act like she’s morbidly obese. Walk her through any mall in America and I can bet you her “unhealthy middle” would look bikini-ready. People really need to get some perspective.

  • Geoff

    It’s time for Taylor Townsend to leave the USTA and find a professional coach to develop her.

  • Paul Taylor

    McEnroe is just a tool too bad he isn’t man enough to admit this. Not paying her fees then reimbursing her mother is guilt. The USTA are racist yes don’t look surprised. This is America this is who we are. Do your thing girl don’t stop playing tennis no matter what anyone says. Get your own private coach they will all be saying they supported you when you are on top as a pro!

  • http://tjohnsonllc.com Tony Johnson

    This re-action by USTA is tipical of the treatment of African American women in Tennis.
    McEnroe and his brother John or examples of those x- white players who are fixed in a 1970′s bubble where white tennis & golf athletes ruled these sports.

    As a footnote; do you remember how rude and bullyish John McEnroe was on the court during his career ? Everyone labled it as overly aggressive, or just macho. Well, remember, Serena Williams was fined $80,000 for similar behavior during the 2009 US Open. Taylor Townsend represents another black female who has the potential to dominate women’s tennis. They don’t like that.

  • Y Smith

    Taylor you are the number 1 player and you are being disrespected by many about your fitness, however you just keep moving forward, keep winning and keep them all talking. Congratulations on winning the Jr Fed Cup by winning 5-0 in your singles and 4-0 in your doubles. Fitness was definitely not a problem here as per the USTA and all the others. Keep your head up and keep moving forward, only the strong will survive and be victorious as you are doing, I am very proud of you.

  • Frederick Crawford

    Taylor, please continue to be who you are. The USTA is advocating diversity and inclusion while at the same time engaging in prejudical practices. The USTA like corporate america wants you to change and be the person they want you to be or look like instead of accepting you for who you are. You are a child of God and do not change for anyone except God and self! May God continue to bless you to achieve all of your dreams and fufill your destiny!

  • http://twitter.com/pepsicocom jb (@pepsicocom)

    Can you explain why you don’t mention Venus Williams’s body type to support your theory?

  • http://twitter.com/pepsicocom jb (@pepsicocom)

    or Sloane Stephens?

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