As the AFLW’s best mark and a champion boxer, Tayla Harris knows how to
roll with the punches – yet even she was stunned at what happened after a
photo of her kicking a goal went viral. But when the blows go low, she flies high.
Tayla Harris greets me in her lounge room, but also in my kitchen. Which is to say that we meet each other – for the first time – via screens. Her blonde hair is pulled back into a single tight ponytail, and she wears a bright yellow hoodie with the words KINDNESS NOW emblazoned across the chest.
And she is lovely. Unhurried but attentive, without airs or affectation, and her smile on my iPad is borderline beatific. Seemingly all her teeth are involved. “You’ll have to excuse me,” she says, wolfing down a spoonful of risotto. “I’m eating dinner.”
She’s definitely excused – I’m grateful for the glimpse of her day. The craft of profile writing, you see, hinges perilously on access – on scooping up colour and movement in the moments between moments, in looks and gestures and interactions. It means hanging around and writing it all down, and until the coronavirus pandemic kicked in, I was going to hang around Tayla Kate Harris as long as possible, to see what life is like when you’re only 23 yet one of the most noteworthy athletes in Australia…
Photography by Michael Willson