Just days after Billie Jean King criticized the French Open’s tournament chief of “policing women’s bodies” for saying Serena Williams’ cat suit “would no longer be accepted,” the U.S. Open came under fire after a female player was penalized for briefly removing her top on the court.
Once again, King, whose name graces the facility where the grand slam tournament is held annually in Queens, New York, was among the chorus of voices demanding change.
“This rule is outdated and impractical,” she wrote on Twitter.
Less than an hour later, the U.S. Open released a statement reversing its policy one day after the controversial call against French player Alize Cornet.
“We regret that a Code Violation was assessed to Ms. Cornet yesterday,” the statement said. “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.”
According to the statement, all players will be allowed to change their shirts while sitting in the player chair.
The statement added: “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.”
Cornet returned to the court following a 10-minute break from the 100-degree heat and seemed to realize that her shirt was on backwards. She quickly pulled up her pink striped top and turned away from the court cameras as she took it off, showing her black-and-red sports bra underneath. Within seconds, Cornet put her shirt back on.
The chair umpire overseeing the match immediately hit her with a code violation. The Women’s Tennis Association rulebook states that female players are only permitted to remove or change their clothing while they are off the court at the closest, most-private location. There is no such rule for male players.
The incident drew immediate criticism on Twitter.
“Alize Cornet came back to court after 10 minute heat break. Had her fresh shirt on back to front. Changed at back of court. Got a code violation. Unsportsmanlike conduct….. ?? But the men can change shirts on court,” tweeted Scottish tennis coach Judy Murray, who is the mother of professional tennis player Andy Murray.
Alize Cornet came back to court after 10 minute heat break. Had her fresh shirt on back to front. Changed at back of court. Got a code violation. Unsportsmanlike conduct….. 😳
But the men can change shirts on court. https://t.co/sCN4KDXYTb— judy murray (@JudyMurray) August 28, 2018