Tag Archives: 2012

A Different Sort of Tennis Star

You’d think since being rated the top Junior player in the United States, tennis phenom Taylor Townsend would be best known for her prowess on the court.  However, aside from Townsend’s legendary on-court tennis battles, are plenty of battles of a different sort.  Two years ago, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) asked Taylor to sit out of the 2012 Open Junior Tournament due to concerns about her “conditioning”.   And by conditioning, they meant body shape.  And by body shape they meant how Townsend looked in a dress.  According to Tom Perotta of the Wall St. Journal:

Her coaches declined to pay her travel expenses to attend the Open and told her this summer that they wouldn’t finance any tournament appearances until she makes sufficient progress in one area: slimming down and getting into better shape.

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

But it doesn’t just stop at funding. According to Perrotta, the USTA actually requested that Townsend skip the U.S. Open, denying both her petitions for wild cards into either the U.S. Open main draw or the qualifying tournament. In the end, Townsend’s family decided to pay out of their own pockets for Taylor to compete in the U.S. Open Junior Tournament.  She was ultimately defeated in the quarterfinals by Anett Kontaveit of Estonia.

It’s clear that Taylor knows on which side her baguette is buttered.  In 2012 Townsend said:  “I’ve gotten a lot of great opportunities, great fitness, great coaching,” she said. “I’m doing everything that they ask me to do and being professional about everything.”

Nevertheless, Townsend has to be feeling more than a little gratified over Tuesday’s French Open results.  The match had some moments that seemed straight out of a movie script.  In the first set of her first match, Taylor got behind 1-5.  She then won12 of the following 13 games to win over her U.S. opponent Vania King 7-5, 6-1. Today (Wednesday, May 28) Townsend (ranked 205th) is scheduled to battle top-ranked Frenchwoman Alize Cornet (ranked 21st) at the 10,000-seat Suzanne Lenglen Court. So surely at this point we’re focusing on her playing prowess, right?  Right?

Well, today’s New York Times article on Townsend is titled “Questioned About Body, Townsend Rises and Inspires”.  Now the article goes on to say that Taylor is playing amazing tennis, and that Wednesday’s matchup promises to be very exciting.  The article contains quotes from Taylor’s new coach (Zina Garrison) talking about how Townsend is “fine”, and how she doesn’t wish her young tennis protege to suffer over criticism or worry about her weight.  So I’ll offer some slight props to the Times for inserting some body positivity into the article.  But let’s not forget that the first three words of the headline are not “Powerful Tennis Star” or “Young Tennis Phenom”.  The first three words of this headline are “Questioned About Body”.

I guess it’s not surprising.  As I’ve reported before, even winning Wimbledon does not protect you from the need to be attractive to men.  The top title in tennis does not forgive you for being less than supermodel gorgeous.

I hope that Taylor kicks some serious butt on the court tomorrow.  I hope she plays really well and ultimately triumphs.  I have to admit that I don’t hold out a lot of hope however, that Taylor Townsend will ever win victory over a public that is most interested in how she looks in her little tennis skirt.

Le sigh.


Jeanette (AKA The Fat Chick)

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Some Athletes are Notably Missing from NBC’s Creepy Bodies in Motion Video

An Olympian woman licks her lips accompanied by a boom chicka wow wow 70’s soft porn soundtrack in NBC’s Bodies in Motion clip on the NBC website.

I’ve admitted it before and I’ll admit it again.  I am complete Olympics junkie.  I LOVE watching the Olympics and cheering for people who have devoted a serious percentage of their lives to be incredibly good at something.  But I have to admit how sad and disappointed I’ve been with the NBC coverage which seems intent on objectifying women and shows a ridiculous fetish-y need to show off the rear ends of incredibly talented women athletes.

First, there was the concern over the London weather being too cold for the beach volleyball players to wear their bikinis.  Then there was the uproar over Gabby Douglas’ hair.  And if that wasn’t enough, NBC felt the need to post a totally inappropriate video called “Bodies in Motion” that along with it’s 70’s soft porn style soundtrack featured a whole lot of women’s bodies, often without faces, in loving slow motion that featured, a lot of women’s butts.  Not that Olympic booty isn’t wonderful.  But seriously, these women train hard every day of their lives to be excellent at their sport.  So why oh why do we need frame-filling close-ups of beach volley-butts?

Probably most distressing to me about this video is who ISN’T in the video.  Weight lifters?  Nope.  Boxers?  Uh-uh.  Fencers, Judo Competitors, rowers, horseback riders, in short anything where women sport bodies considered slightly less movie-star-ready or wearing slightly more clothing?  No, no, no, no and no.

And what really frosts my fridge is the effect that this desire for conventionally attractive bodies has on sponsorship dollars for women athletes.  Sure if you’re gorgeous, blond, bouncy, ponytailed and razor thin, money can often be found.  Meanwhile serious athletes like Sarah Robles often have to get by on a few hundred dollars per month and help from neighborhood food banks.

Let’s face it, not all athletes look like porn stars.  Not all of them were considered worthy to star NBC’s soft porn video (which has since been pulled due to public outcry).  Nope, lots of athletes look just like you and me.  And nearly 1,000 of them participate in the fit fatties forum that I host with the ever-awesome Ragen Chastain.

So my little chicklettes, even if your rear-end is not bikini-clad or featured in barely safe for work fetish videos, don’t despair.  Remember that fitness comes in all shapes and sizes.


The Fat Chick