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Serena Williams: Taylor Townsend, Top Junior Player, Shouldn't Be Held Out By USTA

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Serena Williams returns a shot to Victoria Azarenka, of Belarus, during the championship match at the 2012 US Open tennis tournament, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012, in New York.
Serena Williams returns a shot to Victoria Azarenka, of Belarus, during the championship match at the 2012 US Open tennis tournament, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012, in New York.

NEW YORK -- Serena Williams says she's alarmed by the U.S. Tennis Association's decision to hold a top junior player out of competition over concerns about her fitness.

Sixteen-year-old Taylor Townsend is the world's top-ranked girl. The Wall Street Journal first reported last week that the USTA withheld funding her tournament appearances while she focused on getting in better shape.

"If that happened, that's obviously a tragedy, because everyone deserves to play," Williams said Monday, a day after winning the U.S. Open.

"She's so sweet and she works so hard," she added. "For a female, particularly, in the United States, in particular, and African-American, to have to deal with that is unnecessary. ... Women athletes come in all different sizes and shapes and colors and everything. I think you can see that more than anywhere on the tennis tour."

Townsend played at the Open, winning the junior doubles title and reaching the quarterfinals in singles.

"She's still No. 1," Williams said. "That's saying something."

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