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Morrissey
Sep 8th, 2012, 02:53 AM
Tennis Legends ‘Livid’ About USTA Decision

By Tom Perrotta

The Wall Street Journal reported in Friday’s newspaper that Taylor Townsend, a Chicago native and the No. 1 junior girl tennis player in the world, was benched from tournament play this summer by her coaches at the U.S. Tennis Association because of her fitness. Townsend lost in the quarterfinals of the junior singles tournament Friday afternoon but advanced to the doubles final with her partner, Gabby Andrews.



Taylor Townsend was benched from tournament play this summer by the U.S. Tennis Association.
On Friday, the Journal spoke with Lindsay Davenport and Martina Navratilova, two former No. 1 players and Grand Slam champions who struggled with their weight as teenagers and as pros. Davenport and Navratilova were sharply critical of the USTA’s decision.

“You cannot punish someone for their body type,” Davenport said.

“I’m livid about it. Livid,” Navratilova said. She added: “It speaks of horrible ignorance.”

The Wall Street Journal: You struggled with weight as a junior and a pro. What was it like for you growing up?

Lindsay Davenport: My dad is 6-foot-8. He blew out his knee in 1973, and after bad surgery, an infection ravaged his knee. He hasn’t been able to bend his knee since then. He was probably 150 pounds overweight my whole life. So all through the 80s, when I was a little girl, my dad was huge. My mom was not. But I had this dad with big genes, and we were never thin.

My first year playing the [12-and-under] nationals in Florida [at age 11], another mom reported me for being too old. And I was standing right there, and my mom was like, “I’ve got news for you, she can play next year, too.” And this woman was like, “Oh my gosh!” I had these big, chubby, baby cheeks and people thought that because I was tall and big, I was older.

Martina Navratilova: I put on 20 pounds in two weeks when I first came on the tour. I was 16, I played in Fort Lauderdale and then Dallas. By Dallas, I had to buy myself new shorts because I couldn’t fit into my shorts. I was playing three hours a day of tennis, or more. It was a change of metabolism and a change of diet. I wasn’t eating junk food, either. I was just eating too much. I was eating pancakes and steaks and hamburgers, I discovered corn flakes. It was just a different diet completely. I struggled with my weight for four years after that. I didn’t lose it until I was 20. And really, it just came off by itself. I was training hard and it started coming off in 1976.

How did your coaches approach your development, and how much of that had to do with fitness?

Davenport: There was a female who was in charge of the [USTA] women’s program in the 90s, Lynne Rolley. Lynne stood by me, was like a mother figure to me. I think she saw it as not only developing these great players, but developing us as people, and teaching us, when you walk into a room, look into someone’s eyes. It wasn’t just about trying to get players on Arthur Ashe. No one ever said to me, you’re fat, you’re heavy. Part of it is trying to figure it out on your own and trying to get the player to realize it. You’re dealing with a really difficult age for girls, and you’re talking about a life-changing, detrimental step. You cannot punish someone for their body type.

Navratilova: No matter what, the kid is 16. It’s baby fat, it’s going to come off. She would have to starve to the point of where she can’t play to lose weight, so then she can’t compete. And she’s the No. 1 junior. It is absolutely insane what they did, so irresponsible. If anything, play more. Don’t go into the gym. Just watch [what you eat], but in a positive and constructive and long-term way. But to throw this on her at 16? I’m trying to be nice here, but they totally blew it on this one.

Were there any fitness requirements you had to meet?

Davenport: When I was growing up, we had these USTA camps and a national team, and we would all go to these camps together. And you had to run a mile and a half in a certain time. I could never sleep the night before, I swear to God. I’m not a runner. I could hit the ball really well, and I liked to play tennis, but it was all getting too serious for me. I’ll never forget the anxiety I would feel the night before a run. And the time, whatever it was, it’s such a doable number now, but I’d be crying and stressed about it. And they would threaten that you couldn’t stay on the team. It didn’t happen, so I don’t know if I made the time, or they just kind of overlooked it.

When were your worst struggles with weight?

Davenport: I won the nationals at 15 [in the 18-and-under division]. My heaviest was more at 18, 19, when my parents were getting divorced. But I was never slim. I had an obese father, and we had a great childhood, but a good diet was not part of it, even though I was an athlete. I was not svelte at 15, and I was not fit at 15. If they had told me I could not play, I mean, that could have ruined my career.

There were definitely people within the USTA who didn’t think I had a chance to make it. I was very fortunate that I had Lynne, who was like, “This girl is doing great, she’s a nice girl, why wouldn’t we help her?” You just can’t turn your back on someone when they’re doing well and they’re a great kid. They’ve helped people with the worst attitudes, and that is way worse to me than someone’s body type.

Navratilova: What really pisses me off about this is, OK, weight is obvious, but what about attitude? Can we talk about other kids who they have been supporting for years whose attitude sucks and they still support them? I’m livid about it. Livid.

Is there a “too early” for off-court training like a pro would do?

Navratilova: Absolutely. Absolutely. I say play other sports, because that helps you become a better athlete, and most of all it makes you happy. I didn’t do core training when I was 16, I was climbing trees. I was swimming in the river, I was playing hockey, I played soccer, I road my bicycle a lot and then I played tennis. I did weight training like two weeks a year.

Davenport: I think the time is in your late teens. If you look at Martina Hingis, that great year she had in 1997, she was a twig, but it was just her tennis. Everyone has started doing things earlier, but that pressure is just exploding, and the long-term consequences of what potentially just happened I think are far worse than the benefit.

How much does fitness matter in tennis, say from your days on tour compared to now?

Davenport: It seems to have gone to where it’s a bit more than in the 90s, but it’s still about hitting the ball well. It’s still, in women’s tennis, about the chance to overpower someone. Certainly it’s a more important component when you get older, but it’s not that important when you’re 15, 16 years old. And I think that we’ve seen cases, Martina [Navratilova], myself, where people get over that, and we’ve seen the opposite where eating disorders occur.

[Taylor] is a baby to me. I couldn’t imagine, if someone did that to one of my kids, that would be the end of it. It’s horrible to put that kind of pressure on someone. I can’t imagine at 16 what my parents would have done.

What does a kid like Taylor, at her age, need most?

Davenport: I might take it the opposite way. They need love and support and good role models, and good role models aren’t people who punish and don’t allow things to happen. What really helped for me to lose weight was to try to have fun in the beginning, and just learning things like, you don’t want to eat bread at dinner. You just need to nurture them and I think that’s how it gets better.

If the goal is developing top pros, is that too narrow, or missing the bigger picture?

Davenport: Their whole goal should be to try to develop this player into the best player they can be, and the best person and try to teach them tools to go through life, and hopefully that includes playing in Arthur Ashe Stadium. If this is the player you’re choosing to help, you think they’re going to be good, it’s up to you to make them get there, to bring out their best as a coach.

Bringing out their best isn’t making them feel bad about themselves and having a horrible self-image. You get it out of them by getting them happy, by getting them excited to play, not by tearing them down.

Navratilova: It speaks of horrible ignorance.

tennisbum79
Sep 8th, 2012, 02:56 AM
Kudos to Davey Martina for speaking up.

Patrick McEnroe is a power hungry guy.

SophiaTennis
Sep 8th, 2012, 02:58 AM
I saw this earlier today. So glad Martina and Linssay spoke out! The USTA could've handled this much, much better, instead of trying to shame Townsend. Surely they could find a mix of tennis and fitness.

Anyway, now the USTA has agreed to pay Townsend's expenses and Patrick McEnroe says it was a miscommunication, which, of course, is a LIE.

ETA: In the movie Finding Forrester, a young black kid was a really gifted writer, but had run into problems with a teacher who didn't like him (this teacher had once been a writer, but was spectacularly unsuccessful and was bitter about it). A famous writer (who also knew this teacher) had befriended the kid, and told him:

"Just remember that bitterly disappointed teachers can be either very effective...or very dangerous."

Look at the state of the USTA and tell me whether Patrick McEnroe is effective or dangerous.

Excelscior
Sep 8th, 2012, 03:01 AM
Excellent, informative article.

They said it all.

The only "mis-communication" from Patrick/The USTA, was the original communication, which was inconsiderate, too public, misguided (even with good intentions) and insensitive.

Thanks.

Volcana
Sep 8th, 2012, 03:02 AM
Dear Patrick, these two women could beat you into wheatpaste individually. Together, this will get ugly. Your intentions may have been good, but you handling was a fuck-up. Deal with this. Preferably quietly.

MrSerenaWilliams
Sep 8th, 2012, 03:06 AM
Great!

I'm glad they said something!

Hurley
Sep 8th, 2012, 03:10 AM
Why oh why a new thread when there is a lengthy discussion about the whole situation in http://www.tennisforum.com/showthread.php?t=467727?

[looks at OP]

Oh.

Sir Stefwhit
Sep 8th, 2012, 03:44 AM
^im thankful they started a new thread or I would have missed that interesting article...informative indeed.

tonybotz
Sep 8th, 2012, 04:04 AM
patrick mcenroe is just the worst kind of person

LoveFifteen
Sep 8th, 2012, 04:17 AM
Oh man, I've got tears in my eyes after reading Lindsay's comments. This is really horrible. Poor Taylor. :sobbing:

LindsayRulz
Sep 8th, 2012, 04:22 AM
Well said Martina & Lindsay :worship:

pov
Sep 8th, 2012, 04:30 AM
I agree with the USTA. I tuned in to a Townsend match this week and was shocked at how overweight she is. That's not body-type it's fat! As the "body-type" excuse grows more popular the rate of obesity keeps going up. S.Williams has a body-type that isn't the long and lean one. But there have been times when she's been out-of-shape and times like now when she's toned and fit.

Davenport and Navratilova are incorrect about this. The "baby-fat" thing applied to a 16yo isn't valid.

Morrissey
Sep 8th, 2012, 04:33 AM
I agree with the USTA. I tuned in to a Townsend match this week and was shocked at how overweight she is. That's not body-type it's fat! As the "body-type" excuse grows more popular the rate of obesity keeps going up. S.Williams has a body-type that isn't the long and lean one. But there have been times when she's been out-of-shape and times like now when she's toned and fit.

Davenport and Navratilova are incorrect about this. The "baby-fat" thing applied to a 16yo isn't valid.

You obviously are very insensitive and do not know a lot about teenage girls. Taylor is still growing into her body. Also Lindsay mentioned eating disorders which can be a problem for some young female athletes due to pressure.

Patrick McEnroe and the USTA are cruel and very insensitive to Taylor. Glad Lindsay and Martina blasted Patrick McEnroe and the USTA.

fawnrc
Sep 8th, 2012, 04:50 AM
Thanks to the OP for starting a new thread because I had stopped going into the other thread.

Thirty All
Sep 8th, 2012, 06:04 AM
Pathetic pig Patrick McEnroe

Olórin
Sep 8th, 2012, 10:28 AM
Lindsay and Martina, even more respect for these two champs now :worship:

The Witch-king
Sep 8th, 2012, 11:43 AM
Has the USTA actually developed a great player under Mackenroe? Serious question.

Sammo
Sep 8th, 2012, 12:17 PM
Kudos to both of them.

Patrick and all of the rest of scum

http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m4vjf8KbOk1qj3ir1.gif

jj74
Sep 8th, 2012, 01:00 PM
I agree with the USTA. I tuned in to a Townsend match this week and was shocked at how overweight she is. That's not body-type it's fat! As the "body-type" excuse grows more popular the rate of obesity keeps going up. S.Williams has a body-type that isn't the long and lean one. But there have been times when she's been out-of-shape and times like now when she's toned and fit.

Davenport and Navratilova are incorrect about this. The "baby-fat" thing applied to a 16yo isn't valid.

So the best way to make her lose weight is humiliate her publicly.

they are making big big mistakes with this, because it´s a very sensitive matter. Nobody is telling that Taylor doesn't need to be fitter, but sabotaging her career, pressure her to withdraw the US Open junior, don't let her play itf tournaments, and calling her fat publicly is not the way to solve this.

People say that she is in a slump, but that's not true. She lost against good players (and in this case Anett is older than her). There's a good time since last time a junior won two Gs, so what happened with her after Australian Open is nothing new.
She is very young, and she needs support, not pressure and public humiliation.
Right now, players are achieving results at older ages, Robson won Wimbledon with 14, but it was till now, with 18, she makes the quality leap in her game and became truly competitive.
There's no rush, she needs to lose weight, but she doesn't need to lose it now. They better teach her how to eat and what food is good for her, change her alimentary habits.
She is number one in the world, and one of the best juniors for sure. If they treat this way one of their best prospects, i don't know what they do with someone who isn't so promising

KournikovaFan91
Sep 8th, 2012, 01:06 PM
There are a ton of chubby Americans who are pros that the USTA could sanction, Coco and Oudin clearly have fitness issues for example :shrug: Why pick on a junior?

tripler
Sep 8th, 2012, 01:24 PM
She is quite big...

http://dietsinreview.s3.amazonaws.com/diet_column/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Taylor-Townsend-222x300.png

Tennis Fool
Sep 8th, 2012, 01:41 PM
I see a change between then and the USO:

http://www2.pictures.zimbio.com/gi/Taylor+Townsend+2012+Open+Day+11+yFAkfyDaXiLl.jpg

KournikovaFan91
Sep 8th, 2012, 02:11 PM
She looks to have quite a big bust too which contributes to the heavier look, like Halep always looked heavier before the reduction.

barmaid
Sep 8th, 2012, 02:18 PM
Kudos to both of them.

Patrick and all of the rest of scum

http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m4vjf8KbOk1qj3ir1.gif
Good for Martina and Linds, makes McEnroe look more like the pipsqueak he actually is!!

Barmaid:wavey:

blackandblue
Sep 8th, 2012, 02:34 PM
You obviously are very insensitive and do not know a lot about teenage girls. Taylor is still growing into her body. Also Lindsay mentioned eating disorders which can be a problem for some young female athletes due to pressure.

Patrick McEnroe and the USTA are cruel and very insensitive to Taylor. Glad Lindsay and Martina blasted Patrick McEnroe and the USTA.

What if she has an eating disorder right now? Or is it only a disorder when you eat too little?

DragonFlame
Sep 8th, 2012, 03:10 PM
I think there is 2 sides to this story.

One side:
1. I think the USTA should NEVER quit funding on a #1 player in the world. That is just rediculous, if she wants to play she should be allowed too. 0_o This is her choice.
2. Every player's bodytype is different, not everyone is lean right away and it takes a while to put that off. Usually that happens gradually at a later age.

Other side:
1. They are her coaches, they obviously know her well and are doing what they're saying in her best interest. If they think it's good for her to be working on her fitness i can understand that. These people see her day in, day out, know what she's eating every day and know how she reacts to certain training schedules. Obviously they know what they're doing. The problem is this should be discussed with the player herself though and should have no effect on her financial status.

Patrick345
Sep 8th, 2012, 03:22 PM
http://siusopen.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/taylor-townsend-300getty.jpg

This is her recent US Open picture? :confused:

She already looks much fitter than at the Australian Open. She is 16 years old, her whole body is still developing. Did they expect her to turn into Sam Stosur in six or seven months? I bet if somebody photoshopped Serena´s head onto that picture Patrick McEnroe wouldn´t know the difference.:lol: