Storylines were aplenty
within the tennis world this week as Wimbledon took center stage in London,
with highly ranked superstars Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and Maria Sharapova eliminated
from the world-famous tournament in the early rounds as well as an
off-the-court cold war battle between the aforementioned Sharapova and Serena
However, none of those stories raised skirts like Gussy Moran, the
pioneering tennis star and Santa Monica native who raised eyebrows with her
envelope-pushing in-match wardrobe.
unanimously voted as part of its June 25 consent calendar to commemorate Moran
by renaming the Stadium Court at Reed Park in her honor. The tennis venue will
now be called “Gussy Moran Stadium.” Signage around the court will be updated
to reflect the name change.
City staff stated Moran
had played at Reed Park.
Moran passed away in
January. She was 89. According to City staff, her ashes were spread in the
Santa Monica Bay after her death.
tennis star was born in Santa Monica in 1923. According to City staff, Moran
learned how to play tennis at 11 and graced the court at Samohi. Anecdotally,
Moran played with Greta Garbo and Olivia de Havilland at Charlie Chaplin’s
the amateur ranks in 1947, Moran was once the fourth-ranked tennis player in
the world. Yet, Moran’s tennis play was not the only thing on the court drawing
the audience’s attention. Fresh off her victory in the United States women’s indoor tennis championship
in 1949, Moran set off to London where she played in Wimbledon’s quarterfinals. Moran made
a fashion statement by donning a short skirt. During competition, her lace
panties were conspicuously revealed.
nickname was quickly bestowed upon her: “Gorgeous Gussy.”
designer, tennis player, and official Wimbledon host Teddy Tinling, according
to the New York Times, created the
As made evident when Roger Federer was dinged Tuesday for wearing shoes
with orange soles, Wimbledon has an all-white dress code for all players
participating in the tournament. Indeed, Tingling designed an outfit in all
white – a silk top with a short skirt fully exposing all below the knees.
simple observation of a photos showing Moran in action on the Wimbledon court
revealed a lace-trimmed undergarment.
debuted the outfit at a tea party just prior to the tournament, news reports
both from Wimbledon in 1949 and after the tennis star’s passing observed.
wearing the racy outfit during the quarterfinal match, Moran no longer wore the
short skirt during the rest of her playing time in Wimbledon.
retired from the amateur circuit one year later and played professionally in
1950. Her professional career did not last long, however, and Moran was soon
relegated to competing in exhibitions tournaments and working in radio and
television through the 1960s.
Life did not get much easier for her afterwards,
publicly acknowledging she had abortions. During the Santa Monica centennial
celebrations, it was reported Moran was found beaten and raped backstage at a
Lawrence Welk concert.
Holding down a job – any job – was a chore. When
cancer claimed her life earlier this year, Moran was reportedly living in a
small apartment and left no natural heir; despite three marriages – all
short-lived – Moran never gave birth.
Moran lived in the house she was born in – a
Victorian home on Ocean Avenue – but was evicted in 1986 after she was unable
to pay her property taxes.
Still, Moran left a legacy. Wimbledon tightened
its dress code because of Moran. Various news reports point out Gussy Moran’s
name was attached to a plane, racehorse, and special sauce at a restaurant.
A didactic sign will be
visibly displayed and will include Moran’s biography, career achievements, and
possibly a photo.
A dedication and tennis
event is planned for later this summer or possibly in the fall.
According to City staff,
the new signage would cost Santa Monica $1,200.
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