Miss. Gertrude.  Agusta.  'Gorgeous Gussy' Moran.

 

Wimbledon Golden Memories
Thursday June 20, 1949

 

After the war the boys were back, it was their third year at Wimbledon. The Rev Corbett was taking a day off attending his wife who is about to have their second baby. Mr. White is on duty, some boys felt they would have some fun. Also on this day a young lady with frilly knickers would be the first to be seen on court, The committee of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club were fuming. A search of the Internet, revealed the two photo's below.

   

The real problem started when Wimbledon officials denied Miss. Gertrude Agusta Moran (Gorgeous Gussy) her request to wear coloured outfit in 1949 she didn't get mad, she got even, she asked fashion designer Ted Tinling to create a tennis outfit that would comply with their strict rules.  Her lace-trimmed knickers were front-page news worldwide, and were even the subject of debate in Parliament! 

Our school magazine The Goldonian ran the story view The then school Captain John 'Jimmy' James wrote  "Gorgeous Gussy" Moran's panties" caused a flutter of excitement and a topic of conversation as popular as the weather at Wimbledon. Unfortunately, "Gussy" wore them only twice throughout the whole tournament. I must say that I sympathise with those members of the ''higher authority" who had the misfortune to choose the wrong day! "

Gussy and her knickers appeared on the front pages of newspapers and the covers of magazines around the world. Allegedly it was Johnny Leach who claims setting the pose, he recalls  "I rolled a ball to Miss Moran who had to bend over to pick it up, I did it to brighten our day. In truth it was done as a bet for 2d that I couldn't get her to bend over on centre court. Miss Moran was the first lady player to wear frilly panties, I will say no more, but I won my bet. I never got the view the press got,  only from the picture in the newspaper which was on the headmasters table the next morning, thing was you could only see part of my legs and my black plimsolls. I told Pinhead I got confused in the hot weather, I rolled when I should have thrown. I was never to see those hallowed grounds again thank God as the next year was even hotter.

Leading from this event Gussy behind was virtually seen on every newspaper in the western world. A racehorse, aircraft and a special sauce were named after her. Since then the fashion statements have become stronger but not necessarily more daring. Gorgeous Gussy took her unmentionables and made them very mentionable with the help of  Ted Tinling.

Who was Ted Tinling? He was master of ceremonies at Wimbledon until one of his careers, that of designer-dress-maker, made him for a time persona non grata. That occurred in 1949 when he scandalously (or so it seemed to the tournament committee) equipped American Gertrude "Gussy" Moran with lace panties that drew hordes of photographers and spectators to centre court. Miss. Gertrude was accused of bringing 'vulgarity and sin into tennis' by the committee of the All England Club.

In 1950 she joined Bobby Riggs' professional tennis circuit, and was a huge draw card on the strength of her saucy fillies. She was also an excellent tennis player of course - she would hardly have been playing in the Wimbledon Championships if it were otherwise. In 1952 she even appeared as herself in a Spencer Tracy - Katherine Hepburn comedy, 'Pat and Mike', directed by George Cukor. There is no doubt that her name would have sent the cinema box office spinning as male patrons lined up to buy tickets.

Gussy Moran was one of the great originals, and she sensationally introduced a fashion in tennis attire that was to last for forty years. It has vanished now, and the politically correct BBC has even banned television shots of female players sighting from below the waist. It is a far cry from the sea of newspaper photographers who lay down on the ground behind the base line, cameras pointing skywards, as Gussy Moran tossed the snow white ball in the air to serve to her opponent.

The photos below that were sent in were taken some twenty two years later in 1971 with a doubles partner Chuck Diaz, Just love the one with the cigarette.

Copyright Chuck Diaz Copyright Chuck Diaz Copyright Chuck Diaz
     
  Copyright Chuck Diaz  

Then in 1972 Gussy become a radio host in California and supported the Dodgers as can be seen in this photo. What of 'Gorgeous Gussy' today? I had a news paper cutting sent to me In 2004 Gussy was 80 years old and living in Los Angeles USA.  An article was reported in the Sunday Express 4th July 2004 the same day America celebrated its day of Independence. Gussy was then living in one bedroom flat with her five cats and had been persuaded to sign some vintage "Gussy-Style" panties to sell on EBay. Gertrude today is surviving  and has had quite a life since Johnny Leach won that bet all those years ago. See what a Goldings boy and a  2d bet can do. What of Johnny he's living in a one bedroom flat in downtown Northampton. What did he do with his ill gotten gains? he needed 2d so he could get some Shag. I just know this story will be twisted in time.

Chuck Diaz wrote: Why is 'Gorgeous Gussy' not in the tennis hall of fame? She may not have won a major but she did more to promote professional tennis than anyone.  Because of Gussy, people would go and watch tennis, Gussy was the big draw of the day.  I have sent emails to the USTA and Bud Collins asking why; but I have never received an answer. I really hope before it's too late, they will honor her for being one of the biggest names in tennis of her time.

One fact I know to be true Teddy and Gertrude did no harm to Wimbledon or the gate takings, in fact it  was a 'box office bonanza'.

Do you have any archive photos or information that can be added to these pages?

 

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