Join Date: Oct 2001
A fuller article with good pics----I bolded some parts..
Over the last year and a half, I have received quite a few notes from readers who are in love with ruffled tennis panties, which they say make them feel very sissy. I have been surprised to discover that few know how this fashion, prominent in the 70s and 80s especially, began. With the Wimbledon Tennis Championships upon us, I thought it would be interested to take a brief look at the player who sensationally started it all.
Gertrude Moran was an American tennis star who played at the Wimbledon Tournament in 1949, and wished to play in a coloured dress set. At this time, and for many years thereafter, the All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club had very strict rules about the dress code of players, and playing in anything but pure white was verboten.
Gertrude Moran's answer was to send shock waves around the world, and was to make the 1949 Wimbledon Championships possibly the most widely publicised and fondly remembered in history. On June 20, 52 years ago, she appeared on the hallowed Centre Court wearing (for its day) a short tennis dress with ruffled, lace-trimmed knickers peeping out below the hem. They had been designed and sewn by Teddy Tinling, a former tennis player of note turned fashion designer. Of course he was to become famous in future years for his daring, and ravishingly frilly, tennis outfits for women players, but at this time he was comparatively unknown.
The effect was electric - this was the first time in history that ladies' knickers had been fully and intentionally put on broad public display. The dignified home of the All-England Club was not a burlesque house or music hall. Chaotic scenes developed as photographers fought with each other over back court areas where they could lie flat on the ground to catch the most risque shots
of Gertrude's powerhouse serve for newspapers around the globe.
The conservative members were outraged, but the public loved it; it was much more cheerful fun than watching spoiled whiners like John McEnroe arguing the point with the linesmen would ever be. One member who was lunching with Teddy Tinling berated him with the remark, 'You have put sin and vulgarity into tennis'. However Teddy and Gertrude did the club no harm in gate takings - it was, as one wise-cracking American sportswriter expressed it, a 'box office bonanza'.
Gertrude didn't do as well at Wimbledon as was expected, and years later admitted that the incredible publicity had fatally put her off her game. But her naughty knickers did earn her the sobriquet, by which she was known forever after, of 'Gorgeous Gussie', a reference to her knickers rather than her - she was not outstandingly beautiful, although it would be quite unfair to judge her by the picture at the top of this page. Any woman player under the intense concentration of Wimbledon will look rather grim and severe.
In 1950 she joined Bobby Riggs' professional tennis circuit, and was a huge drawcard on the strength of her saucy frillies. 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. In 1972 she had become a radio host in California, but I do not know what became of her in later years.
One article, discussing many years later an unscheduled nude appearance on Centre Court, evoked memories of 'Gorgeous Gussie':
'This provocative act paled the memory of 'Gorgeous Gussie' Moran who, in 1949, paraded on Centre Court wearing a pair of risqué lacy, ruffled panties under her tennis dress. Designer and tennis aficionado Ted Tinling, who collected ten quid for his trouble, designed and sewed the outfit. The caper almost cost him alienation from Wimbledon, the tournament he loved. The sexy panties were labeled as 'undignified' by the Club. One might wonder what this latest scenario was labeled...'
Gussie 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 Gussie Moran tossed the snow white ball in the air to serve to her opponent. I couldn't find a picture of one of her serves, which is a pity. If any readers can help out, please contact me. Her knickers, I might add, were somewhat different from the ruffle-seated tennis panties of the 1970s. They were longer in the leg, and had few ruffles, but most noticeably had a broad trimming of lace around the leg - they were more like French knickers. When I was young, right up to the 1970s, frilly knickers were, in Britain at least, coloquially referred to as 'gorgeous gussies', in fond memory of probably the most photographed female player in Wimbledon history.