US Open clarifies shirt-changing rule after Alize Cornet penalty

Cornet given code violation for taking off shirt on court (1:02)

Alize Cornet removes her shirt on the court after realizing it is on backward during her match and is given a code violation by the chair umpire. (1:02)

NEW YORK -- After receiving heavy criticism from fans and other players, the US Open said it regretted the code violation given to Alize Cornet after she changed her shirt on court during her first-round match Tuesday.

Cornet, who accidentally put her shirt on backwards during a heat-mandated break ahead of the third set in her match against Johanna Larsson, returned to the court and took her shirt off to correct her mistake, briefly exposing a sports bra. She was then given a warning from the chair umpire for unsportsmanlike conduct, in accordance with the Grand Slam rule book, which says women should only change their attire in a break between sets in the nearest available bathroom.

As male players do not have the same rule, and Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and others were seen changing their shirts on court during their matches Tuesday, the rule instantly drew ire.

In a statement from the tournament on Wednesday, officials said that all players, regardless of gender, are allowed to change their shirt while seated in their chair, and women can opt to change their shirts in a private location off court, without being assessed a bathroom break.

"We have clarified the policy to ensure this will not happen moving forward," the statement continued. "Fortunately, she was only assessed a warning with no further penalty or fine."

In a separate statement, the WTA said the violation was "unfair," and "not based on a WTA rule, as the WTA has no rule against a change of attire on court." "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."

Cornet said Wednesday that she appreciated the USTA's apology.

"I think it's very fair from them to apologize to me," Cornet said, adding that she didn't expect the situation to become such a big story.

"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."

Judy Murray, the former British Fed Cup captain and mother of ATP stars Andy and Jamie Murray, was one of the first to publicly criticize the violation on Tuesday in a tweet, which prompted further outcries from WTA player Bethanie Mattek-Sands and the recently-retired Casey Dellacqua.

Speaking to ESPN on Wednesday, Judy Murray said she was pleased the tournament had clarified the issue, but pointed out the double standard of the rule.

"I think [the statement] was fine," she said. "They're good at reacting quickly, which is exactly what you want in cases like this. You almost need something to happen like that for people to become aware this rule exists, and then you give the solution to it and everyone knows where they stand.

"It just seemed so strange that it was called unsportsmanlike conduct. Her shirt was on back-to-front, which would restrict her movement, she changed quickly so play could resume right away. It seemed like such a functional decision. You sit and watch the men's matches, and it happens all the time.

"In this day and age, when you see what's worn on the beach and even at the gym, a sports bra is not [a big deal]."

"I didn't know they gave an apology, which is really nice, I think," Victoria Azarenka said Wednesday after her 6-1, 6-2 win over Daria Gavrilova. "I believe that should never happen. If I would say my true feelings, it would be bleeped out, because I think it was ridiculous. It was nothing wrong. Nothing wrong. It wasn't anything disrespectful. She literally changed her shirt because it was backwards. So I couldn't believe this was a conversation."

Cornet said having the support of other players "feels nice."

"When I came in this morning in the locker room, many players came to me," she explained. "Even former players, like Tracy Austin, I was very honored to be actually approached by her like that.

"And they were just giving me all their support. ... It feels like when something's happening, we're kind of a family, and everybody is regrouping."

Cornet ultimately lost her match, but was back on the court Wednesday with doubles partner Irina Bara.