US Open organisers have expressed regret after being accused of sexism for issuing a formal warning to French star Alize Cornet for changing her shirt on court at Flushing Meadows.
Amid sweltering conditions in New York on Wednesday, Cornet took her top off after realising she had put it on backwards during a 10-minute heat rule break between the second and third set against Sweden’s Johanna Larsson.
Cornet, who was late getting back to the court, appeared stunned when she was then handed a code violation by chair umpire Christian Rask.
The incident led to a storm of criticism on social media and claims of sexism, with Judy Murray, a former tennis coach and also the mother British star Andy Murray, questioning whether organisers employed double standards men and women.
Retired Australian tennis star Casey Dellacqua tweeted the sanction was “ridiculous”.
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
The United States Tennis Association (USTA) later released a statement saying Cornet should not have received a warning and will not face a fine.
“All players can change their shirts when sitting in the player chair. This is not considered a code violation,” the statement said.
“We regret that a code violation was assessed to Ms Cornet yesterday. 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.
“Female players, if they choose, may also change their shirts in a more private location close to the court, when available. They will not be assessed a bathroom break in this circumstance.”
The WTA welcomed the US Open’s response, saying in a statement: “The code violation that USTA (United States Tennis Association) handed to Alize Cornet during her first round match at the US Open was unfair and it was not based on a WTA rule, as the WTA has no rule against a change of attire on court”.
“The WTA has always been and always will be a pioneer for women and women’s sports. This code violation came under the Grand Slam rules and we are pleased to see the USTA has now changed this policy. Alize did nothing wrong.”
USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier earlier told CNN that Cornet was given a code violation for “changing her shirt at the baseline. That was considered unprofessional conduct”.
He said the USTA had been following the rules of both the men’s and women’s Tours, adding female player have the right to change their shirts on court provided they are sitting in the chair.
“We don’t want people changing their attire in the middle of the court,” Widmaier said.
Cornet was just one of many players hit by the extreme heat at this year’s US Open.
After slumping to a three-set defeat, during which Cornet cried and told the on-court doctor she needed to vomit and felt pain in her head and bones, the 28-year-old French star said the conditions had been a “nightmare”.