In effect, U.S. Open officials on Wednesday acknowledged being embarrassed that they should have been embarrassed by French player Alize Cornet’s thoroughly reasonable wardrobe function during her Tuesday match.
And Cornet dismissed the whole thing “as a mistake by one person. I was disturbed for maybe 10 seconds, and that was it.”
Shortly after noon on Tuesday, Cornet, a 28-year-old veteran playing in her 51st major tournament, had just returned from the 10-minute cooling-off period provided by the Open’s Extreme Heat Policy. She was about to start the third set against Sweden’s Johanna Larsson on outer Court No. 13 in mid-90s heat when her boyfriend pointed out that she had put her fresh shirt on backward.
So she turned her back on the court and stripped off the shirt, worn over her sports bra, to quickly reverse it. And was startled to hear that chair umpire Christian Rask was assessing her a code violation. “Violation for what?” Cornet said. “Really?”
It amounted to no more than a warning. It did not trigger a fine nor cost Cornet a penalty point, and theoretically didn’t impact the match. Though Cornet, ranked 31st, proceeded to lose the third set and the match to the 82nd ranked Larsson, she said Wednesday, “it didn’t affect me. I lost all on my own.”
But when Cornet arrived on the tennis center grounds Wednesday morning for an afternoon doubles match (she lost), a wave of fellow players and former players approached her to offer support. “All the players were supporting me and telling me, if I get fined, we would all be together and make a revolution and stuff. I was, like, ‘calm down.’”
By then, the Open already had issued a statement of “regret that a Code Violation was assessed Ms. Cornet” and a clarification that “all players can change their shirts when sitting in the player chair”— as happens fairly often with male players.
Of the kerfuffle, “If I would say my true feelings,” two-time Australian champion Victoria Azarenka said, “it would be bleeped out. I think it was ridiculous. I’m glad [the Open officials] apologized.”
Azarenka lamented a double standard for women and men, and brought up the recent decision by French tennis federation president Bernard Giudicelli to initiate a dress code at the French Open as a way to ban such outfits at Serena Williams’ body-stocking cat suit.
But Cornet said, “It’s different things. The president of my federation lives in another, you know, time . . . he said about Serena’s cat suit was 10,000 times worse than what happened to me.
“It just seemed like a mistake from the umpire and nothing else. That’s how I take it. I think he was probably overwhelmed by the situation. We were all very hot outside.”