1. Meet Taylor Townsend, the 18-year-old American tennis player who won the USTA wild card entry to this year’s French Open.
Though she started the tournament ranked 205 worldwide, Townsend beat No. 65, fellow American Vania King in the first round. In the second round Townsend beat No. 20 seed (and No. 1 Frenchwoman) Alize Cornet in a huge upset, going on to become the first American woman to get to the third round.
Townsend was defeated Friday by Spanish player Carla Suarez Navarro, who is ranked No. 14, but you’ll be seeing a lot more of her from here on out.
2. Townsend’s performance in the French Open prompted No. 6 men’s player (and 2013 Wimbledon champion) Andy Murray to tweet:
3. In 2012, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) asked a 16-year-old Townsend to sit out the 2012 US Open because she was “out of shape.” Townsend entered the tournament anyway.
Though Townsend did turn out to have undiagnosed anemia, the USTA had not had that information when they advised her not to participate — their suggestion had been based on Townsend’s weight.
Townsend got healthy, but the USTA refused to pay for Townsend’s travel. So along with her coach and mother, Taylor held a fundraiser that helped her pay her own way.
4. When asked if she thinks she’s shattering stereotypes of what a tennis player “should” look like, Townsend says “Yeah, I guess!” and reminds us that tennis supremacy does not require a skinny (or white) body.
“[Serena] has a beautiful figure,” Townsend says. “Venus isn’t small. I mean, she’s taller. I mean, I’m short. I’m not skinny. But I mean, I’m just trying to do the best I can for me … I’m not going to be the same as everybody else.”
6. Taylor is also on Twitter, and her selfie game is strong.
7. Here she is taking one with Venus and Serena. YAASSS.
8. She’s also very charming and funny.
When, in this interview from last year, Taylor was asked what her greatest strengths on the court were, she said, “My forehands and volleys.” When asked for her weaknesses, she made the above face and told the interviewer, “I’m not telling!”
9. Like any champion would, she hates losing.
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