Female U.S. Open Player Gets Violation for Removing Shirt on Court, Officials Call It a Mistake
The French tennis player received a code violation for removing her shirt on court during a match at the U.S. Open — Officials have since issued statements saying it shouldn't have happened
France’s Alizé Cornet received a code violation at the U.S. Open on Tuesday for removing her shirt on the court sidelines in a moment caught on camera. But now — amid backlash — officials from the organization that runs the grand slam tennis tournament are saying she did not break any rules.
During her match against Johanna Larsson in Queens, New York, Cornet left the court for a 10-minute heat break and changed her attire in a locker room. When she returned, she realized that she had put her shirt on backwards.
In the video shared by ESPN, Cornet can be seen jogging to the side of the court, removing her top and briefly exposing her black sports bra before putting the shirt back on. Before play could resume, the chair umpire called to Cornet that she would receive a code violation for removing her shirt on the court.
“This is not okay,” the umpire said, with Cornet visibly reacting in confusion.
An influx of criticism from fans and spectators quickly followed, with many — including Andy Murray — calling the move sexist because male players often take their shirts off while on the court.
The United States Tennis Association has since clarified that it’s not currently a violation for players of any gender to change attire during a match. In a statement to PEOPLE, officials said, “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.”
The statement continued: “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 Women’s Tennis Association — which previous media reports have said is responsible for the rule that Cornet allegedly violated — asserted that the policy did exist as part of the USTA rulebook for the Grand Slam tournaments, which include Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, the French Open and the Australian Open. The WTA also stated that the USTA has since amended the rule.
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“The code violation that USTA handed to Alize Cornet during her first round match at the U.S. 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 statement reads. “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.”
The USTA did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for further comment regarding the origin of the rule that prompted the referee to call out Cornet and if it’s since been changed.
Cornet ultimately lost the match to Johanna Larsson.