Who was ‘Gorgeous Gussie’ Moran?

Gertrude Moran, popularly known as ‘Gussie’ – although she preferred ‘Gussy’ – was an American tennis player who, alongside partner Patricia Canning Todd, reached the final of the ladies’ doubles at Wimbledon in 1949, which they lost in straight sets to compatriots Louise Brough and Margaret Osborne duPont. However, it was during that tournament that Moran was christened ‘Gorgeous Gussie’ by the press, as the result of wearing an outfit that, although unremarkable by modern standards, was considered scandalous at the time.

Seemingly unaware of the all-white dress code at Wimbledon, Moran asked renowned fashion designer Cuthbert ‘Ted’ Tinling to design a tri-coloured outfit, with sleeves of different colours and a skirt of a third colour. Tinling, instead, designed an outfit that complied with the dress code but, nevertheless, led to questions in the Houses of Parliament and led to Tinling being ostricised by the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) for decades afterwards.

In those restrained postwar years, when A-line skirts reaching to, or just below, the knees were he order of the day, Tinling opted instead for a short dress, which he paired with ruffled, lace-trimmed knickers, which were clearly visible during play. Moran later recalled, ‘…Life magazine ran a picture calling me Gorgeous Gussie, and the British picked it up and did a real job with it.’

In fact, such was her embarrassment on the one and only occasion she wore the outfit, that she hid her face behind her racket. Nevertheless, Moran, who described herself as ‘ really never anything to write home about’, was accused of bringing ‘vulgarity and sin’ into the game by the AELTC and subsequently reverted to wearing shorts.

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