Sports

Tennis Player Gabriella Taylor's Parents Say She Was Poisoned at Wimbledon, But Probably Not

Taylor came down with a super rare disease, and her parents are right to be freaking out. But all logic says it was just bad luck.
August 11, 2016, 5:02pm
Taylor at Wimbledon in 2015. Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

A women's tennis player and her family are alleging that she contracted a rare bacterial disease last month at Wimbledon because she was poisoned. Have you got all of that? Now let's deconstruct it.

Gabriella Taylor is an 18-year-old British tennis player. She withdrew from her quarterfinal match in the girls' singles tournament because she felt ill. She then spent four days in intensive care in the hospital. Doctors diagnosed her with Leptospirosis, an uncommon disease that's passed on through rat urine.

Taylor's parents were obviously scared and worried and at a loss for explanations.

"She was full of confidence and was looking forward to getting the title; that was her dream. Everything was going well," her mom, Milena, told The Telegraph. "She got to the quarter-final, but then the next thing she is lying in intensive care close to death. When the infection team explained what it was we could not believe it."

This is all understandable. This must have been a confusing and fearful time in their lives. But the Taylors also think this wasn't just a random fluke. They're alleging that Gabriella was actually the victim of an intentional poisoning and that there was malice behind this.

They filed a police report. They feared that she was poisoned by a betting syndicate trying to influence the match and make money off her loss. Or if it was by a competitor or a rival coach.

"For her to get ill in these circumstances, with rat urine, was just impossible," Milena Taylor said. "The bacteria the infection team found is so rare in Britain that we feel this could not have been an accident."

It's just that this logic doesn't seem to pass muster. According to The Guardian, it's "highly unlikely" she was poisoned despite the unlikely odds of contracting Leptospirosis in the first place.

Experts had never heard of the disease being weaponized that way. And turning it into a poison is pretty damn hard.

"Leptospirosis is most commonly carried in rat urine and can cause symptoms ranging from mild flu-like effects to, at its most severe, Weil's disease, which can lead to organ failure. The incubation time and effects of leptospirosis are hard to predict: incubation time is usually five to 14 days, but it can be as long as 30 days, "so your planning would have to be quite meticulous."

And there wasn't any significant betting action related to Taylor's match either. So that's probably out.

So are the Taylors lying? Or making something up? Probably not. They're just likely frightened parents trying to figure out what happened to their daughter and trying to rationalize this freak occurrence. Because it's definitely weird.