The Washington Post
Bodysuit Bites the Dust
By John Feinstein
June 29, 1985
When Anne White walked onto Court No. 2 this afternoon, dressed in a white tennis skirt, there was a groan from the audience, packed in tight, awaiting her arrival.
Gone, by order of Wimbledon tournament referee Alan Mills, was the white bodysuit that White wore Thursday evening for two sets before darkness forced suspension of her first-round match with Pam Shriver.
By the time play stopped, White was the talk of the grounds. Photographers were fighting for space, reporters were ignoring deadlines and scrambling to see White and, even well after 8 p.m., every seat in the stands was still filled.
By this morning, she was on the front page of six London newspapers.
Shriver, who won the match today, 6-3, 6-7 (7-9) 6-3, was less than delighted with Thursday's scene. She had walked onto the court after the warmup, with her back to White. As White stripped off her warmup suit to reveal the body-hugging Lycra spandex suit, the crowd began hooting and whistling.
"I heard all this hooting and hollering and I looked up and I saw this thing," Shriver said. "After the match she said that she didn't mean to upset my game, but I wish she would have mentioned it to me before we went out there.
"I mean, you've sat around for three days watching it rain, you finally get out there at 7:20 at night and the first thing you see is this person wearing the most bizarre, stupid-looking thing I've ever seen on a tennis court.
"I guess her attitude was, 'I'm playing Pam, she's been playing great, I might as well just do something bizarre, get some press and attention.' It worked, she lost, it's over."
White, 23, is blonde, 5-foot-11, and striking. She has done some modeling, and if her tennis in the last year has been indifferent, it was not her tennis that caused the stir.
"I first came up with the idea about two months ago," White said. "I talked to the people at Pony (the company that supplies her tennis clothes) and they liked the idea and designed it for me.
"The other girls thought it was great and thought I had a lot of guts to wear it. They thought it was funny. My friends just said, 'Go for it Whitey.' "
White insisted that her main purpose in wearing the outfit was for warmth. "I train in muscle tights at home -- doing aerobics, running and practicing. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and what I think is proper and helps me may not be the same for someone else . . . . This keeps my muscles warm and is very functional . . . The whole purpose of the outfit is to keep your legs warm."
And yet, White planned to wear the outfit here, in conservative media-thronged Wimbledon, and went out of her way to keep her plan a secret. Asked about all the attention, she smiled and said, "It was nice."
"I knew everyone was going to go nuts. I mean, if I had played on Court 17 at 10 o'clock at night, maybe no one would have noticed. But playing on Court 2 against Pam, I knew people were going to notice . . . ."
Mills informed White as she came off the court Thursday night that she couldn't wear the outfit again. "He said to me, 'You've certainly made your point.'
"I'm a little aggravated I couldn't wear it today," White continued. "But it's their tournament and I don't want to do anything to upset them or hurt their feelings. I mean, I don't want people spilling their strawberries and cream because of me."
Ted Tinling, the famous dress designer who caused one of the great scandals here in 1949 when he designed Gussie Moran's famous lace panties, walked out to see White and pronounced the outfit "Wonderful, the next logical step, entirely appropriate."
Today, the Wimbledon committee expressed its unhappiness with Tinling for his remarks, which were overheard by a writer from one of the tabloids here, printed and embellished on the front page of the newspaper.
This afternoon, R.E.H. (Buzzer) Hadingham, chairman of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, released an official statement: "I think we all thought Anne's body stocking really fascinating, but Alan Mills carried out his duties quite correctly.
"The rules state that clothes must be predominantly white and constitute 'normal tennis attire.' Anne's outfit was certainly all white but could hardly be called normal tennis attire . . . I know that Anne understands the ruling but we appreciate why she wore it.
"Ted Tinling believes it is the style of the future and although I cannot predict what the committee will decide in the future, I believe that the addition of a skirt will bring it within regulations."
It also would take all the fun out of the outfit.
"I guess it's a good way to get publicity," said Martina Navratilova, Shriver's doubles partner. "If you can't get it done with your racket, get it done another way. I guess it worked."
Although White and Shriver are friends -- "Anne's one of my weirder friends," Shriver said -- she would have preferred the umpire to have ordered White to change her clothes when she came on court.
"She says she wore it to stay warm, but did you see anyone else doing it? Actually, it wasn't that cold last night. Towards the end, she was toweling off on every point because she was hot. I was thinking if I couldn't beat her I might be able to sweat her out of the match. I thought after a while I might just be playing against the white outfit, she would be gone. I also figured if it got dark I'd still be able to see her no matter what."
White's suit will not be seen again on the grounds at Wimbledon. But it will be seen again: Saturday morning, she will be posing for a photo layout in the outfit.