Santa Monica Tennis Court Renamed After Gussy Moran

Saturday, 29 Jun 2013, 9:10:00 AM

Parimal M. Rohit

Wimbledon tightened its dress code because of Gussy Moran. She will be remembered with the renaming of a tennis court at Reid Park.
Courtesy Photo
Wimbledon tightened its dress code because of Gussy Moran. She will be remembered with the renaming of a tennis court at Reid Park.

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

Williams.

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.

Council members

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.

The

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

house.

Joining

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.

A

nickname was quickly bestowed upon her: “Gorgeous Gussy.”

British

designer, tennis player, and official Wimbledon host Teddy Tinling, according

to the New York Times, created the

outfit.

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.

A

simple observation of a photos showing Moran in action on the Wimbledon court

revealed a lace-trimmed undergarment.

Moran

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.

After

wearing the racy outfit during the quarterfinal match, Moran no longer wore the

short skirt during the rest of her playing time in Wimbledon.

Moran

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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