French women’s tennis player Alize Cornet has accepted the apology offered by US Open organisers, but the row surrounding her code violation for removing her shirt on court won’t go away.
An extreme heat policy offering female players a 10-minute break before the deciding third sets can be played, was implemented on medical advice at the New York tournament after temperatures reached up to 38C.
Returning to court following the break in her match against Swede Johanna Larsson, Cornet realised her shirt was on back to front and quickly turned it around.
The switch took a matter of seconds and Cornet was wearing a sports bra underneath.
But the world No.31 was immediately hit with a code violation by the chair umpire for her actions.
The call has ignited fierce responses on social media, with many blasting the decision as sexist.
“I believe that should never happen,” fumed former world No.1 Victoria Azarenka following her second-round match on Wednesday.
“If I would say my true feelings, it would be bleeped out, because I think it was ridiculous.”
“It was nothing wrong. Nothing wrong. It wasn’t anything disrespectful. I’m glad they apologised, and I hope this never happens again.”
“There is always a double standard for men and women. But we need to push those barriers.”
The US Tennis Association has acknowledged chair umpire Christian Rask had incorrectly warned Cornet for changing her shirt on court at the US Open.
“We regret that a code violation was assessed to Ms Cornet yesterday,” read the USTA statement . “We have clarified the policy to ensure this will not happen moving forward.”
“Fortunately, she was only assessed a warning with no further penalty or fine.”
The decision to penalise Cornet triggered a social media storm with many people labelling the umpire’s decision as sexist.
Tennis coach Judy Murray, mother of former world No.1 Andy Murray, took to Twitter to question the decision, pointing out men were allowed to change their shirts on court.
Alize Cornet came back to court after 10 minute heat break. Had her fresh shirt on back to front. Changed at back of court. Got a code violation. Unsportsmanlike conduct….. ????
But the men can change shirts on court. https://t.co/sCN4KDXYTb
— judy murray (@JudyMurray) August 28, 2018
Male players frequently change or remove their shirts between games and sometimes sit shirtless for extended periods of time in their chairs during changeovers.
Cornet said she was surprised to wake up on Wednesday to a full-blown controversy and attempted to downplay the incident.
“For sure, the women are treated a little bit differently,” admitted Cornet, who ended up losing her first-round match to Sweden’s Johanna Larsson. “I think it gets much better, especially in the tennis.”
“I want to be clear about it and I didn’t take it that bad. I was just maybe disturbed for 10 seconds and that was it.”
While Cornet accepted the incident with good humour and grace and was willing to extend the USTA an olive branch, she was far less forgiving to her own tennis federation which recently introduced a dress code for the French Open that will ban Serena Williams’s black catsuit.
“Everybody is working in the same direction,” Cornet said. “Then we still have some people, like the president of my federation that lives in another time.”
“What Bernard Giudicelli said about Serena’s catsuit was 10,000 times worse than what happened to me on the court yesterday, because he’s the president of French Federation and because he doesn’t have to do that.”
“This kind of person doesn’t have the work that we are all doing to make it more fair for women.”