'I didn't expect to be here': Taylor Townsend grateful for Billie Jean King Cup return
GLASGOW, Scotland -- Taylor Townsend’s second career Billie Jean King Cup nomination was equal parts unexpected and well-deserved.
Seven years after she debuted for the U.S. team as an 18-year-old, Townsend's Billie Jean King Cup return comes as a fitting finale to a comeback season, and just seven months since she returned to professional tennis after the birth of her first child, son Adyn. Telling reporters on the eve of the competition that she had lofty ambitions for her comeback season, Townsend also admitted that rejoining the U.S. team wasn’t something on her immediate radar.
"It's always been in the back of my mind, but I could tell you, 'Hell no!’ Excuse my French, but I mean, I said it,” she said with a hearty laugh in in the U.S.'s pre-event press conference on Monday.
"I set really high goals for myself in terms of ranking, results, what I wanted to see myself accomplish and how I wanted to feel over the course of this journey, but I had no conception of if things were going to go the way that I thought they were going to go. I put goals in place and put markers, but I didn't think I was going to be here.”
A winner of two USTA Pro Circuit singles titles this year, she reached the quarterfinals or better in six of the 10 tournaments she played in 2022. In doubles, she had a career year: She reached the semifinals at Roland Garros, was runner-up at the US Open, and reached an new best ranking of No. 32 in September.
There’s no doubt that the 26-year-old left-hander earned her way to Glasgow, and it’s a reward she’s relishing.
"It was kind of an 'A-ha!' moment for me the first day that I got here,” Townsend said. “I settled in, and I was like, 'Wow,' and just gave myself a pat on the back, like, ‘This is a big deal for you to be here.’
“I just was really thankful and had a ton of gratitude, not only to myself and the work that I've done and my team, but also to [U.S. captain] Kathy [Rinaldi] for being able to acknowledge the work that I've put in and to make this decision for me to be on this team.”
Townsend’s first, and to date only, senior Billie Jean King Cup match was a doubles victory against Argentina in 2015 that put a bow on an already-decided 4-1 U.S. victory.
(She did play a crucial part in the U.S. team that won the junior title in 2012—ironically enough, her captain then was also Rinaldi.)
She could be an ace-in-the-hole for Rinaldi this time around, considering the success she’s had on tour this year with her Glasgow teammates: Madison Keys was her partner at Roland Garros, and she teamed with Caty McNally at the US Open. But whether it’s on-court or on the bench, she says she’ll embrace whatever role that Rinaldi gives her.
"I'm so excited. I'm going to bring the energy,” she said. “I love team environments. I love team atmospheres. With Kathy, we actually won junior Fed Cup [the event was renamed Billie Jean King Cup in 2020] when I was 15, so it just brings back such great memories.
“I always love playing on a team and I'm going to do the best I can as a teammate to just lift each other up and hopefully, lift the trophy up.”
Tennis Channel will provide complete live coverage of the Billie Jean King Cup Finals from Nov. 8-13. The U.S. is guaranteed two round-robin matches. The Americans will play Poland on Nov. 9, not before 11 a.m. ET; and the Czech Republic on Nov. 11, not before 11:30 a.m. ET.
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