Tennis Pro Alize Cornet Sparks Sexism Debate After Changing Shirt Mid-Match

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Alize Cornet

U.S. Open officials are being accused of issuing a sexist penalty after a female tennis player briefly took her shirt off on the court. 

During Alize Cornet's opening round loss to Johanna Larsson, the French tennis player was allowed to take a 10-minute medical break as temperatures during her match approached 100 degrees.   

Upon returning, Cornet realized her top was on backwards. She quickly turned away from cameras, removed her shirt, and put it back on correctly. 

Umpire Christian Rask then penalized Cornet with a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct because she briefly revealed her sports bra. 

Newsweek reports that under Women's Tennis Association regulations, "female players are not allowed to change their outfit while on the court but the men’s circuit (ATP) contains no such rule." 

Rask's call was criticized by many on social media. Judy Murray, the mother of tennis superstar Andy Murray, pointed to a glaring double standard between men's and women's rules. 

"Alize Cornet came back to court after 10 minute heat break. Had her fresh shirt on back to front," she tweeted. "Changed at back of court. Got a code violation. Unsportsmanlike conduct..... But the men can change shirts on court." 

Retired female player Casey Dellacqua responded with one word: "ridiculous."  

Others called the rule "sexist" and tweeted photos of shirtless male players like Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic—none of whom were penalized for showing skin mid-match.   

It's the second time the sport has been accused of "policing women's bodies" in recent memory. Last week, 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams made headlines after she was banned from wearing a black Nike catsuit by French Open officials. 

Prior to her own fashion controversy, Cornet showed her support for Williams by retweeting tennis legend Billie Jean King's statement on the issue. 

"The policing of women’s bodies must end," King wrote. "The 'respect' that’s needed is for the exceptional talent Serena Williams brings to the game. Criticizing what she wears to work is where the true disrespect lies."

Nike also tweeted, "You can take the superhero out of her costume, but you can never take away her superpowers."

Williams went on to crush first-round opponent Magda Linette in straight sets (6-4, 6-0) during her U.S. Open appearance, all while wearing a regulation-abiding black tutu.