Townsend, 18, became the youngest American woman to reach the third round of the French open in more than 10 years. In one of the most significant upsets of the tournament, Townsend, who was ranked No. 205 in the world, defeated France's top-ranked player, Alize Cornet, who was ranked No. 20.
Townsend grew up in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood and has been training with her Coach, Kamau Murray, at XS Tennis Academy in Kenwood. According to him, the win changed everything.
"On the practice court today, we're walking up and the same guy that gave us a bad practice court three days ago gave us the best practice court he had today," said Murray.
Aaron Mabra, the director of Junior development at XS, is a friend of Townsend's and said he believes that growing up on the South Side has made her resilient.
"Watching how tough these kids have to be on a daily basis just to make it through the day," Mabra said, "I think it's a perfect training ground for a stage like the French Open."
Towsend went to school at The Ted Lenart Regional Gifted Center and began home schooling after becoming the No. 1 ranked junior girls player in the world in 2012.
Before going to Paris, she practiced on the clay courts at Diversey Parkway near the lakefront with her mentor, Billie Jean King.
Gaby Keiderling, a young tennis player who practices at XS, is inspired watching Townsend.
"She probably stood exactly where I am standing," said Keiderlink. "Like, it's just so cool. She's living her dream and that's what I want to do."
Townsend's mother works at a downtown bank. Coach Murray says playing at this level is incredibly expensive. They've gotten this far on donations, but he says the team is on a shoestring budget.