New mom Townsend on a journey of discovery

Motherhood has instilled a new raison d’etre in the 26-year-old

Taylor Townsend, Roland Garros 2022, first round© Nicolas Gouhier/FFT
 - Chris Oddo

Just over a year after giving birth to her baby boy Adyn Aubrey, American Taylor Townsend is back on tour with a new lease on life.

After a seed-smashing week on the doubles court with first-time partner Madison Keys, the talented southpaw explains how becoming a mother has significantly altered her perspective.

“For sure, I definitely have a new sense of why," the American said on Sunday in Paris. "You try to find that over the years and it kind of transforms.

"For me my 'why' is totally different now, and I have somebody who looks at me and doesn’t give a you-know-what if I win a tennis match, if I lose a tennis match. He’s just happy to see me and happy to talk to me and that’s always amazing because it kind of keeps it in perspective for me when you can get so caught up in this world, it’s able to kind of pull you out and say that it’s really not that big of a deal.” 

Here in Paris, Townsend keeps in touch with her baby via FaceTime. She was pleasantly surprised to find that her partner and nanny are excelling as babysitters back home. 

“He’s with his dad and the nanny, and they are surviving,” Townsend says with a smile. “I was a little bit nervous - ‘Are they gonna be fine without me?’ - and it turns out that they are just as good without me as they are with me.”

A partnership years in the making

Townsend and Keys, long-time friends who are playing together for the first time, have immediately generated on-court chemistry.

The unseeded tandem has taken out the No.7 and No.9 seeds en route to the last eight, and Townsend is thrilled to be contending for a title after losing in the first round in singles to France’s Caroline Garcia. 

“It’s awesome to be back, I’m really glad that I’ve been able to kind of turn around my tournament, especially how it started with the singles. I wasn’t really happy with how that went; I am kind of living vicariously through Madison’s wins,” she said, referring to the fact that Keys reached the round of 16 in singles for the fourth time in her career. 

Keys, who fell to Veronika Kudermetova in singles on Monday in Paris, said she first realised she was a good fit with Townsend on the doubles court at a World Team Tennis event in 2019.  

Taylor Townsend, Madison Keys, Roland Garros 2022, doubles third round© Remy Chautard/FFT

“We were playing really well and James Blake was our captain and he looks at us like: ‘Why don’t you guys play together?’” Keys said. “And I was like, 'I have no idea.’”

Townsend, searching for a strong partner in her first Grand Slam event as a mother, reached out to Keys a few weeks before the tournament to solidify the pairing. 

Great friends, great tennis

When they get on court, Keys is happy to hand the leadership reins over to Townsend. 

“I would say I just do whatever Taylor tells me,” she said with a wry smile. “I think that’s a winning strategy, to ask Taylor what to do.” 

Townsend has never been beyond the semi-finals at a Grand Slam before; Keys is into her first quarter-final in doubles. The pair are hoping that their good vibes translate into more wins in Paris. 

“I think we have really good communication and I think that it makes it fun," Townsend said. "It’s almost like a puzzle because we haven’t played with each other, this is match three or four, so we are figuring things out as we are playing other opponents and having to figure out what we need to do to adjust our games against them; it’s kind of like a learning experience for both of us, during the match.” 

Taylor Townsend, Roland Garros 2022, women's doubles third round© Remy Chautard/FFT

Townsend has played often with doubles stalwarts Asia Muhammad and Jessica Pegula; now she's happy to have another go-to partner.

“We have a great relationship we go back like years and years and years, so I’m super comfortable with Madi to be able to communicate,” Townsend said. "She is somebody who has that eye and has been in the game for so long, she is willing to have those conversations while you are playing, and to be able to make those adjustments is really important.

"I’m comfortable doing that and she is with me as well.” 

Standing between the Americans and the semi-finals are unseeded duo Marta Kostyuk and Elena-Gabriela Ruse.