National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Born Santa Monica, California
The winner of the U.S. women’s indoor singles tennis title in March 1949, Gertrude "Gussie" Moran was promptly dubbed "Gorgeous Gussie" by sportswriters, who seemed more eager to extol her good looks than her powerful forehand. When Moran entered the All England Championship at Wimbledon that summer, she was the fourth-ranked player in America. Eager to wear something more feminine than standard tennis togs for her first appearance at the storied English tournament, Moran commissioned a new outfit from Ted Tinling, a noted British designer and tennis enthusiast. Tinling’s creation was a knee-clearing tennis dress that was paired with lace-trimmed shorts. When play began and the courtside crowd caught its first glimpse of lace beneath Moran’s flying skirt, there was an uproar. Moran lost in the third round but became front-page news for allegedly violating Wimbledon’s decorum. Soon afterward, she left the amateur ranks to join the professional tennis tour.