FLASHBACK: Alize Cornet made her first Grand Slam Quarterfinal at the Australian Open


No. 3: "The whole locker room was sick."

This year’s Wimbledon was already off to a rocky start, and it had the potential to get even worse after 2021 finalist Matteo Berrettini had to bow out of the tournament due to a positive COVID-19 test.

The news rocked the All England Club, as just a day earlier Marin Cilic had made the same announcement. Whispers of a COVID-19 outbreak ran rampant. After the tournament organizers had controversially banned every Russian and Belarusian player from competing, was the remaining field about to be dealt another major blow if more top players would be forced to pull out?

As it turns out, there would be no need to worry, as the All England Club was spared from any further withdrawals and there was no outbreak. At least, not one that players would be willing to talk about, according to inadvertent whistleblower Alize Cornet.

The French player made headlines when she revealed that there was a silent agreement in place among players to stop self-testing and to not report their symptoms of coronavirus—all to avoid being forced to withdraw from a Grand Slam event and miss out on ranking points and lucrative prize money should they test positive.

Alize Cornet lifted the lid on a conspiracy of silence at Roland Garros.

Alize Cornet lifted the lid on a conspiracy of silence at Roland Garros.

“At Roland Garros, there was a COVID-19 epidemic, no one talked about it,” she told L’Equipe. “In the locker room, everyone got it and we said nothing… The whole locker room was sick.”

“I think there have been a few cases, and it was a tacit agreement between us,” Cornet added. “We are not going to self-test to get into trouble!

“Afterwards, I saw girls wearing masks, maybe because they knew [they might have it] and didn't want to pass on. You also have to have a civic spirit.”

While the revelations drew plenty of criticism both online and in the press, they didn’t come as a shock for followers of tennis. Players had long been telegraphing signals that they were tired of ineffective bubbles and protocols that seemed to change weekly, they were done dialing into press conferences over Zoom, and they’d had enough of the social media hate and judgment that often flooded their mentions following a positive result.


At Roland Garros, there was a COVID-19 epidemic. No one talked about it.

And putting themselves at risk for a default, especially at a tournament where testing wasn't compulsory and when thousands of spectators were enjoying their time at the tennis unmasked and untested? Not a chance, this news implied.

“Let no one suggest that professional tennis players are not a keenly self-interested lot,” wrote TENNIS.com’s Pete Bodo in reaction to Cornet’s revelations.

After two long stop-start years, the sport as a whole seems eager to put all COVID-19-related angst and instability in the rear view mirror. The way is already paved for Novak Djokovic to return to Australia, set to start the upcoming season in Adelaide one year after having his visa canceled. And, hopefully soon, debates like these will be a thing of the past altogether.

But as the tennis world learned during Wimbledon, the moral of the story is this: If you’re going to pull off a conspiracy of silence, don’t tell your big secret to Alize Cornet.