Penny Taylor is another outstanding All-Star basketball player from Australia playing in the WNBA. The 6'1" 163 lbs. forward has enjoyed a successful career and was a member of the 2009 WNBA champion Phoenix Mercury. An ankle injury kept Taylor out of the action for much of the season and upon returning to the court, she came off the bench and sparked the Mercury in their title drive. She contributed 10.7 ppg, 2.4 rpg and 2.3 apg as the Mercury defeated the Indiana Fever three games to two to capture the title.
"PJ" was born Penelope Jane Taylor May 24, 1981 to Michael Taylor and Denna Noble in Melbourne. She has two siblings in Heather and Philip. At the age four, Taylor began playing basketball and after graduating Upwey High School, she received a scholarship to attend the Australian Institute of Sports. It was there that she decided to pursue a professional career in basketball. Her outstanding skills earned her a place on Australia's national woman's team, the Opals, whom she remains a member. One goal remains elusive to Taylor and the Opals: Olympic Gold. The Opals earned bronze at 2000 Sydney and silver at 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing. There was the triumph of winning the 2006 FIBA World Championships with Taylor receiving tournament MVP honors.
In 1998, Taylor turned professional by joining the Dandenong Rangers of Australia's WNBL and she stayed with the Rangers until 2002. The Rangers won the WNBL championship in 1999. Taylor's career year has to be 2001 when she led the WNBL in scoring at 25.5 ppg and 2.5 steals per game and was named Most Valuable Player. The Australian star entered the 2001 WNBA draft and was selected with the 11th pick by the Cleveland Rockers and she made the 2002 WNBA All-Star team.
Cleveland folded after the 2003 season and Taylor was taken by the Mercury with the top pick in the dispersal draft. 2007 was another banner year for Taylor as the Mercury beat the Detroit Shock in five games to win the WNBA title. Taylor was an All-Star, made the All-WNBA First team and logged WNBA season career highs in points (17.8 ppg) and rebounds (6.3 rpg). In 2008, Taylor turned down a $100,000 contract to play for the Mercury in order to prepare for the Olympics with the Opals and enjoy a belated honeymoon with husband Rodrigo Rodriguez Gil. She met professional Brazilian volleyball player Gil in Italy where they were playing on teams and married in 2005. In addition to playing professionally in Australia, America and Italy, Taylor has also played in Russia and most recently in Turkey.
She signed a new multi-year contract with the Mercury on April 16, 2010 and averaged 15.9 ppg. in the team's title defense but Phoenix fell short losing in the conference finals to the Seattle Storm. Number #13 enjoyed a terrific 2011 All-Star season though again the Mercury faltered in the conference finals this time to the Minnesota Lynx. Taylor was named to the All-WNBA second team thanks to being among league leaders in several categories. Her 16.7 ppg. was seventh in the league while her 7.0 rpg. ranked ninth.
Taylor was among the female Australian Olympians including fellow Opal Lauren Jackson in promoting the woman's team by posing for artistic black and white nude photos published in the book "Athens Dreams."