Beloved women’s tennis star Gertrude ”Gussie” Moran, whose risque choice of attire shocked the Wimbledon crowds in the late 40s, died this week at her home in Los Angeles. She was 89.
Moran had recently returned home following a lengthy hospital stay with colon cancer when she passed away Wednesday, January 16.
“Though often outspoken, Gussy’s spirit and charm was irresistible, Her friend, Jack Neworth, wrote on 10sballs.com. “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.”
Born in Santa Monica, California, Gussie excelled as a youth in both school in athletics.
The daughter of a sound technician and electrician at Universal Studios, Moran entered several amateur tennis tourneys in the golden state, eventually rising to eligibility to play at Wimbledon in 1949.
As a seventh-seeded 25-year-old at the tournament, Moran stunned the Wimbledon crowd when she showed up for her first match wearing a skirt that was short enough for her lace-trimmed knickers to be visible during the match, a first for any tournament.
”She had no idea what she was getting into,” Neworth said. ”She definitely liked fashion and was very attractive, but she was very naive and hadn’t traveled much.”
Though she would go on to lose the match, the incident earned her the nickname “Gorgeous Gussie.” Gussie later reverted to wearing shorts.
In 1950, Moran turned professional, which barred her from grand slams. She took part in a tour that pitted her against Pauline Betz, with male pros Jack Kramer and Bobby Riggs also playing.
At her prime, Moran was ranked as high as fourth in the United States.
One of her last tournaments was at the 1971 U.S. Open, apart from competing in the Women’s Singles where she was eliminated at the first round, she also partnered Chuck Diaz at the Mixed Doubles.