U.S. Open changes rule after female player penalized for changing shirt

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NEW YORK — The U.S. Open on Wednesday clarified its rules about players changing their shirts during a match after a women’s player was penalized for doing so.

The tournament said it regretted the code violation issued to Alize Cornet of France day earlier, a ruling that was criticized by people who thought it was unfair to women because male players frequently do it.

“It’s very fair from them to apologize to me,” Cornet said Wednesday, after losing her first-round doubles match to exit the tournament altogether. “When I woke up this morning, I didn’t think that this code violation would become so famous in less than 24 hours, and I’m very surprised about it, actually, to be honest. Because on the court, it really seemed like a mistake from the umpire and nothing else. That’s how I take it.”

Cornet returned from a break in action during her match Tuesday with her shirt on backward. She took off the shirt and put it back on correctly while standing near the rear of the court and was given a code violation by the chair umpire.

“I think just the umpire was probably overwhelmed by the situation,” Cornet said. “You know, we were all very hot outside. Maybe it just didn’t make the right decision. Of course, I was surprised when I just changed T-shirt really quick, and he gave me the code violation, I didn’t expect it, and I told him it was pretty weird.”

The penalty drew criticism on social media, with people — including Andy Murray’s mother, Judy — noting that men frequently change their shirts while sitting in their chairs during changeovers.

“The code violation that USTA 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 women’s tour said in a statement. “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.”

U.S. Open officials said all players can change their shirts when sitting in the player chair, adding that women can also change their shirts in a private location near the court if it is available without being assessed a bathroom break.

Cornet was given no further penalty or fine.

“All the players were supporting me [Wednesday morning] for that, and were telling me that if I get fined, we would all be together and see the WTA, you know, and make a revolution and stuff,” Cornet said. “I was, like, calm down.”

Last week, the French Tennis Federation president said the black catsuit outfit Serena Williams wore at the French Open this year would no longer be allowed.

Williams said she had a good relationship with the French Open officials and that everything would be fine, but between that and the Cornet penalty, women’s players are upset.

“There is always a double standard for men and women. But we need to push those barriers,” two-time U.S. Open finalist Victoria Azarenka said. “And as players, as representatives of the WTA Tour, I believe we’re going to do the best we can to make sure that we are the most progressive sport and continue to break those boundaries, because it’s unacceptable. For me, it’s unacceptable.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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MORE: Serena Williams OK with French Open despite catsuit ban

Injured Ilia Malinin wins Grand Prix Finland, qualifies for Grand Prix Final

Ilia Malinin
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Ilia Malinin, competing “a little bit injured” this week, still won Grand Prix Finland and goes into the Grand Prix Final in two weeks as the world’s top-ranked male singles skater.

Malinin, who was second after Friday’s short program, landed four clean quadruple jumps in Saturday’s free skate to overtake Frenchman Kevin Aymoz.

Malinin, who landed a quad flip in competition for the first time, according to SkatingScores.com, also attempted a quad Axel to open his program, but spun out of the landing and put his hand down on the ice.

Malinin also won his previous two starts this season in come-from-behind fashion. The 17-year-old world junior champion became the first skater to land a clean, fully rotated quad Axel in September, then did it again in October at Skate America, where he posted the world’s top overall score this season.

Next, Malinin can become the second-youngest man to win the Grand Prix Final after Russian Yevgeny Plushenko. His biggest competition is likely to be world champion Shoma Uno of Japan, who like Malinin won both of his Grand Prix starts this fall. Malinin and Uno have not gone head-to-head this season.

Grand Prix Finland highlights air on NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET.

FIGURE SKATING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Earlier, Japan’s Mai Mihara overtook world silver medalist Loena Hendrickx of Belgium to become the only woman to win both of her Grand Prix starts this season. Mihara prevailed by .23 of a point. The top three women this season by best total score are Japanese, led by a junior skater, 14-year-old Mao Shimada, who isn’t Olympic age-eligible until 2030.

Mihara and Hendrickx qualified for the Grand Prix Final, joining world champion Kaori Sakamoto and Rinka Watanabe, both of Japan, South Korean Yelim Kim and American Isabeau Levito, the world junior champion.

Italians Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini won both pairs’ programs and qualified for their first Grand Prix Final.

Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara and Americans Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier headline the Final. Both pairs won each of their Grand Prix starts earlier this fall. The Japanese have the world’s two best scores this season. The Americans are reigning world champions.

At least one Russian or Chinese pair made every Grand Prix Final podium — usually pairs from both countries — but neither nation competed in pairs this Grand Prix season. All Russian skaters are banned due to the war in Ukraine. China’s lone entry on the Grand Prix across all disciplines was an ice dance couple.

Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier improved on their world-leading score for this season in winning the ice dance by 17.03 points over Americans Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker. Both couples qualified for the Grand Prix Final in the absence of all three Olympic medalists this fall.

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Lara Gut-Behrami wins Killington giant slalom, and the overall title race may be on

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Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami rallied from third place after the first run for her 35th career World Cup victory, taking a giant slalom in Killington, Vermont, on Saturday.

Gut-Behrami, 31, earned her fifth World Cup giant slalom win and first in six years. She prevailed by .07 of a second over Italian Marta Bassino combining times from two windy runs. Sweden’s Sara Hector, the Olympic champion and first-run leader, ended up third.

“Last two years I’ve been getting better in GS again,” said Gut-Behrami, who won the GS at the last world championships in 2021. “Last year I was struggling with my health. I was all the time sick.”

ALPINE SKIING: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Gut-Behrami’s best events are downhill and super-G, so a strong start to the season in GS could put her on a path to winning the World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing. She previously lifted that crystal globe in 2016.

Reigning World Cup overall champ Mikaela Shiffrin, who previously placed second, third, fourth and fifth in Killington giant slaloms, finished 13th after winning the season’s first two races, slaloms in Finland last week. It marked her lowest World Cup GS finish since December 2019.

“[Finland] was a spectacular weekend,” Shiffrin, who has not had much recent GS training, said after her 10th-place opening run Saturday. “Every race is a different story.”

Shiffrin won all five World Cup slaloms in Killington dating to 2016 and will go for her 50th career World Cup slalom victory across all venues on Sunday (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC and Peacock).

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