Alize Cornet brushes off wrongful US Open reprimand for removing her top and jumps to defence of Serena Williams

Williams has been banned by the French Open organisers from wearing a catsuit that she used for health reason, with Cornet labelling the comments ‘totally shocking’

Jack de Menezes
Thursday 30 August 2018 09:25
Alize Cornet given code violation for changing top at US Open

Alize Cornet has played down her involvement in the sexism row that erupted on day two at the US Open, and instead used the opportunity to speak publicly to leap to the defence of Serena Williams following the “totally shocking” comments made by French tennis chief Bernard Giudicelli.

The French Tennis federation president banned Williams from wearing the black catsuit that she wore for health reason at this year’s tournament at Roland Garros, despite the outfit assisting her after suffering from life-threatening blood clots after giving birth to her first daughter last year.

Frenchwoman Cornet found herself at the centre of another clothing-related storm on Tuesday when she was given a code violation by the match umpire Christian Rask in her first-round defeat by Johanna Larsson at the US Open. Having returned from a 10-minute heat break with her top on the wrong way, Cornet took it off and corrected it, only to be sanctioned for unsportsmanlike conduct.

US Open officials have since apologised for the mistake, confirming that she should not have been warned for the incident, and made the United States Tennis Association [USTA] have since altered the ruling that ensures women are not penalised for similar instances in the future, given that male players are allowed to do the same.

But Cornet was not overly concerned with her warning and instead believes that the comments made about Williams were of more concern for the image of the sport, which she believes are “10,000 times worse” than her own reprimand.

"Bernard Giudicelli lives in another time," Cornet said. "What he said about Serena's catsuit was 10,000 times worse than what happened to me on the court on Tuesday, because he's the president of the French federation and because he doesn't have to do that.

"These kind of comments are totally shocking for me."

Giudicelli claimed in a magazine interview this week that Williams had to “respect the game” and said that any similar attire would not be accepted at the French Open in the future – a statement that Williams brushed off when she addressed them at the start of the US Open in New York.

Alize Cornet brushed off her US Open sexism row and instead defended Serena Williams

Cornet also spoke of a potential “revolution” among herself, her fellow female players and the Women’s Tennis Association [WTA] has she been further penalised or fined for changing her top.

"Everybody was pretty scared that I could get a fine for it," Cornet added. "I was also scared. They were telling me that if I get fined, we would all be together and see the WTA and make a revolution and stuff.

"I was, like, 'Calm down. I'm going to get the information first and then we see if we make a revolution or not'.

"I think it's very fair from them to apologise to me. I think the umpire was probably overwhelmed by the situation."

Alize Cornet removed her top when she noticed it was on the wrong way round
Cornet turned away from the cameras as she removed the top
Cornet then returned to prepare for play but was given a code violation instead

The WTA confirmed on Wednesday that there is no such ruling among their regulations that prevents players from taking off their top in the circumstances that Cornet found herself in, and welcomed the apology from the USTA and law change that has been swiftly made.

“The code violation that the 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 WTA 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.”

Earlier in the day, the USTA said: “All players can change their shirts when sitting in the player chair. 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.”

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