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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