Taylor Townsend says she has been mistaken for every other American female black tennis player, including Venus Williams.
“Everybody sees a black person and they assume that it’s Venus or Serena (Williams) or Sloane (Stephens),” the 24-year-old Townsend said in a Tennis United video while talking about the death of George Floyd, who died in police custody on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
“I’ve been literally all of them down the list except for myself.”
Townsend, who is ranked No. 73 in the world, recently had a fan insist she had to be the rising US star 16-year-old Coco Gauff.
“I’ve had people argue with me to tell me that I’m Coco Gauff. I’m not Coco Gauff, but all of us look the same, all of us are built the same,” Townsend said.
Townsend said she gets treated differently by security personnel at tournaments, which usually means extra screening at checkpoints to “make sure that I belong.”
“Even from the aspect of, you walk through and nobody stops you, and I’m walking through and somebody has to check my bag, check my credential, check my coach’s bag, check my coach’s credential.
“This is our reality. It happens all the time — week in, week out, every tournament that I play in the States, overseas, it doesn’t matter,” she said.
“This is not the first time this has happened,” Townsend said, referring to the protests sparked by Floyd’s death. “But this is one of the bigger events that has caused such a mass eruption of people’s emotions.
“It’s not going to change. I don’t expect it to change. Hopefully, this (Black Lives Matter protests) just creates a safe space and an awareness for people to want to talk about it. To be able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.”
‘All human beings’
The actual Coco Gauff recently attended a Black Lives Matter protest where she delivered a heartfelt speech, adding her voice to those demanding racial equality in America.
Several US and international athletes joined — and even led — protest marches in cities across the US on the weekend.
A number of Milwaukee Bucks players marched and spoke on Saturday at a rally in the city, including NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who sported a shirt that read: “I can’t breathe.”
“We want change,” Antetokounmpo, of Greece, said in address to other protesters.
“We want justice. That’s why we’re out here. That’s what we’re going to do today. That’s why I’m going to march with you guys. I want my kid to grow up and not to be scared to walk down the street. I don’t want my kid to have hate in his heart.
“It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter the colour. We’re not black, white, yellow. It doesn’t matter. We’re all human beings.”
Giannis’s brother, Thanasis, and several other Bucks players including Brook Lopez, Sterling Brown, Donte DiVincenzo, Frank Mason and Cam Reynolds also marched.
They all wore shirts reading, “I can’t breathe,” a reference to Floyd’s last words. Floyd was killed when officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter, while three other officers have been charged with abetting murder and manslaughter.
On Wednesday, NBA star Stephen Curry chanted the name “George Floyd” as he and some of his Golden State Warrior teammates joined a throng of protesters at a peaceful march in California.
As some protesters called for others to “say his name,” Curry was among those shouting: “George Floyd!”
The march, which also included Warriors Klay Thompson, Kevon Looney and Damion Lee, took place in the same location as the NBA club’s championship rallies and parades.
On Saturday, NFL quarterback Dwayne Haskins, of the Washington Redskins, attended protests in Washington, DC.
Haskins met with Mayor Muriel Bowser before marching with demonstrators across the city.
NHL star Zdeno Chara marched through the streets of Boston to show his support for the black community.
“For the last 13 days I have been sick about George Floyd’s murder,” said Boston Bruins captain Chara, who is from Slovakia.