US Open: Outrage as woman tennis star penalised for taking top off during match, officials issue public apology
Cornet had taken off her shirt after she realized that she wore it backward while she was off the court for a 10-minute heat break before putting it back on the right way
Officials at the US Open have come forward and said that they were wrong to fine Alize Cornet, a French tennis player, for taking off her shirt on the court in an incident that had fans slamming the tournament of blatant sexism and double standards.
Cornet had taken off her shirt after she realized that she wore it backward while she was off the court for a 10-minute heat break shortly before the third set of her first-round defeat against Johanna Larsson from Sweden.
There were many people across the world who then slammed umpire Christian Rack's decision to issue the 28-year-old French player a code violation when all the male players in the sport are free to change their shirts on the court to combat the sweltering 38-degree heat on August 28.
The organizers of the tournament issued a statement on August 30 which read: "All players can change their shirts when sitting in the player chair. This is not considered a code violation. 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 tournament has been slammed on social media for its double standards for the incident. Especially since it came in the wake of the double standard problem earlier in the French Open after the French organizers said that it was going to ban Serena Williams from wearing her Nike "Black Panther" bodysuit at Roland Garros in the future.
Judy Murray, former world number one Andy Murray's mother, who is also a respected member of the tennis community, tweeted: "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."
The Women's Tennis Association has also said that the code violation received by Cornet was "unfair and not based on a WTA rule, as the WTA has no rule against a change of attire on court." A spokesperson for the organization has also added: "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."
Victoria Azarenka, the former world number one and two-time winner, said that she was content that the USTA had apologized to the player but she still believes that there is a serious issue with how men and women are treated while on tour. The former player from Belarus said: "If I would say my true feelings, it would be bleeped out because it was ridiculous. It wasn’t anything disrespectful. Things and issues like this need to stop at the beginning. It cannot develop anymore. It’s enough. You know, the things with the catsuit, I personally don’t understand it. No idea what it means disrespecting the game playing in the catsuit? There is always a double standard for men and women."
There were many eagle-eyed social media users who pointed out that Novak Djokovic, Wimbledon champion, and two-time US Open winner, sat outside the court at the Arthur Ashe Stadium with his shirt removed and had an ice towel around his shoulders only a few hours after Cornet got penalized.
President of the French Tennis Federation (FTT) Bernard Giudicelli came under fire for sexism after he banned Serena Williams' black bodysuit from Roland Garros next year. He said: "You have to respect the game and the place." Giudicelli then added that there were going to be "certain limits" on the clothing that players wear at the 2019 French Open.