The clay courts at the French Open tennis tournament are a long way from the streets of Englewood but one of Chicago’s own, 18-year-old Taylor Townsend, made the jump.
Two days ago, Townsend stunned the tournament’s 21st-seeded player, Alize Cornet, 6-4, 4-6, 64, to reach the third round. She became the youngest American in more than a decade to get that far.
Townsend’s tournament came to an end this morning with a 6-2, 6-2 loss to Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro.
She learned her love of tennis while growing up in the Englewood and Chatham neighborhoods. She still has grandmothers in Englewood and Hyde Park.
Friends and supporters watched this morning’s match on a big-screen TV at XS Tennis, in the Kenwood neighborhood, where Townsend trained.
In the weeks leading up to the French Open, she practiced on clay courts on Diversey Parkway, and even trained with tennis legend Billie Jean King.
Townsend says Wednesday’s match was the high point of her week, especially since she defeated a French opponent on her home court, and faced a crowd that was almost unanimously against her.