French tennis star Alize Cornet has made a bombshell claim that players have adopted a ‘tacit agreement’ to deliberately hide Covid-19 cases on tour, saying that there was ‘an epidemic’ at last month’s French Open.
The world No 37 later backtracked and insisting her remarks were ‘to emphasise that the virus was now part of our lives.’
The 32-year-old is currently competing at Wimbledon and her comments came after stars such as Marin Cilic and Matteo Berrettini withdrew from the tournament with positive tests.
Cornet, who beat Yulia Putintseva in straight sets to progress into the second round, believes there has been plenty of unreported cases at recent tournaments.
‘In the locker room, everyone had it and we said nothing,’ Cornet told L’Equipe about the French Open. ‘I saw girls wearing masks, perhaps because they knew and did not want to pass it on.’
Cornet went back on her claims just hours later, as reported by Yahoo, and said she only ‘suspected a few cases of Covid during Roland Garros, without having any proof’.
Alize Cornet has revealed players have adopted a ‘tacit agreement’ to keep Covid cases quiet
Both Marin Cilic (pictured) and Matteo Berrettini have withdrawn after testing positive
Barbora Krejcikova (pictured) also pulled out of last month’s French Open due to a positive test
She cited the example of Barbora Krejcikova, the defending champion in France, who withdrew from the doubles tournament shortly after a surprise first round exit due to a positive Covid test.
‘It was above all to emphasise that the virus was now part of our lives and that we had to deal with it,’ Cornet said of her remarks.
‘When we see that Krejcikova withdraws saying I have Covid, and that the whole dressing room is sick. At some point we may all have had the flu.
‘The thing is, we have three symptoms. The throat scratching, we play and everything is fine, it’s ok.
‘In Roland Garros, yes, I think there have been a few cases and it is a tacit agreement between us.’
The All England Club announced on Wednesday morning that they are strengthening their Covid measures to combat the spread of the virus.
There will be increased cleaning in ‘high touch traffic points’, according to BBC Sport, while better ventilation and more hand sanitiser stations will be in place. Masks are also available for players who want them and medical teams will wear them during indoor appointments.
Cornet, 32, believes there has been plenty of unreported cases at recent tournaments
Wimbledon was hit by a major Covid-19 blow on Tuesday after Matteo Berrettini withdrew
Wimbledon was hit by a major Covid-19 blow on Tuesday morning after last year’s finalist Berrettini withdrew due to a bout of the virus.
The popular Italian, in fine form after winning Queen’s, joined former runner-up Marin Cilic in pulling out, further depleting the field in the absence of Russians and Belarussians.
Last year Wimbledon escaped relatively lightly from the pandemic, with Brit Jo Konta the only significant withdrawal.
Wimbledon’s official Twitter account offered their sympathies to the eighth seed, saying: ‘We’ll miss you, Matteo – come back stronger in 2023’.
Berrettini, who was due to play Chile’s Cristian Garin in his opening match at 1pm on Tuesday, is replaced in the draw by lucky loser Elias Ymer of Sweden.
The Italian, in fine form after winning Queen’s, joins former runner-up Marin Cilic in pulling out
Berrettini (pictured) was due to play Chile’s Cristian Garin in his opening match on Tuesday
He has won his past nine matches on grass courts after winning the Stuttgart final – where he beat Brit Sir Andy Murray – before going on to retain his Queen’s title.
A shattered Berrettini, who was in the top three favourites with Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, said via Instagram: ‘I am heartbroken to announce that I need to withdraw from @wimbledon due to a positive Covid-19 test result.
‘I have had flu symptoms and been isolating the last few days.
‘Despite symptoms not being severe, I decided it was important to take another test this morning to protect the health and safety of my fellow competitors and everyone else involved in the tournament.
‘I have no words to describe the extreme disappointment I feel.
‘The dream is over for this year, but I will be back stronger. Thank you for the support.’
Wimbledon is presently following guidelines from the UK Government, which do not require players to test themselves or even isolate if they do test positive, meaning players have taken any decisions to withdraw as a result themselves.