“Gorgeous” Gussy Moran, whose lacey knickers were the talk of Wimbledon in 1949, has died at the age of 89 at her home in Los Angeles.
Moran was recently hospitalized and was suffering from colon cancer. Her highest U.S. national tennis ranking was No. 4.
When Moran came out in what was then considered a skimpy outfit at Wimbledon, photographers stormed the court to get pictures of her. The brainchild of British designer Ted Tinling, the undergarment featured a half-inch of lace trim. The All England Club chastised her for bringing “vulgarity and sin into tennis.”
“No one in their wildest dreams could have foreseen the furor, the outcry, the sensation,” Tinling said at the time.
Moran reached the doubles final at that Wimbledon tournament and the quickly turned pro, touring with former Grand Slam champion Pauline Betz in a tour organized by Jack Kramer.
“Gussie was the Anna Kournikova of her time,” Kramer once said. “Gussie was a beautiful woman with a beautiful body. If Gussy had played in the era of television, no telling what would have happened. Because, besides everything else, Gussy could play.”
After she retired, Moran held a variety of jobs in California, including as sportscaster, a teaching pro, a hostess, and an advertising manager. She also developed her own line of clothes. Moran was married three times. At one time, she wrote columns for Tennis magazine.
Her friend, Jack Neworth, wrote on 10sballs.com: “Though often outspoken, Gussy’s spirit and charm was irresistible. Admittedly Gussy’s last years were difficult as she had outlived her family and most of her friends. And financially and with her health there were problems, but she was remarkably accepting and content.”