Lifestyle & Belief

"Gorgeous" Gussy Moran, American tennis pioneer, dies aged 89


A photo taken in 1950 shows 'Gorgeous' Gussy Moran Posing in her tennis outfit.

Gertrude Augusta Moran — a.k.a. "Gorgeous" Gussy — the American tennis pioneer whose lacy underwear caused a sensation at Wimbledon, has died at the age of 89.

Mark Winters, director of communications of the Southern California Tennis Association, told Agence France-Presse that Moran passed away on Wednesday.

In 1949, she sported a daringly short dress and lace-trimmed panties that Wimbledon's conservative All-England Club found brought "vulgarity and sin into tennis," AFP wrote.


The blog described Moran — known to many friends as "Gus" — as a dear woman.

Brilliant. Witty. Charming. Elegant. Complicated. Independent. And Indigent. Yes. Indigent. She had a roof over her head but she lived very simply. There was never any extra money. It’s sad ...

The Santa Monica-born Moran might have fitted better with today's fashion conscious female players — becoming better known for her clothing than her game.

After she turned out in the short (for the era) outfit, the press dubbed her "Gorgeous Gussy," overshadowing her achievemen in reaching the doubles final at the tournament.

Like many big names in pre-Open tennis, Moran turned professional in 1950, meaning she could no longer play in grand slam events.

Before 1968, only amateurs were allowed to compete in established tennis tournaments, including the four Grand Slams, according to a report in the Independent.

However, there was no prize money, with players only compensated for travel expenses. 

During a six-month tour, Moran played against the likes of fellow American Pauline Betz — who dominated women's tennis during the 1940s, winning five grand slam singles titles and one mixed doubles title. 

Jack Kramer and Bobby Riggs also played on the pro circuit.

According to AFP, Moran had a "compact, powerful forehand" and "played the kind of baseline game that became a staple in women's tennis after her playing days."