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Gussie Moran

Tennis player who shocked Wimbledon;

Born: September 8, 1923; Died: January 16, 2013.

Gussie Moran, who has died aged 89, was a tennis player who shocked the stuffy All England Club at Wimbledon but delighted photographers when she ditched the knee-length outfit considered appropriate in the 1940s in favour of a much shorter skirt that showed off her lacy underwear. After the move she was labelled Gorgeous Gussie.

The appearance happened in 1949 when Moran was 25 and ranked No 4 in the US. The dress she wore for the game against Betty Wilford was created by Ted Tinling, a former tennis player who became a fashion designer. All England Club chairman Louis Greig condemned it for "having drawn attention to the sexual area" but on the court the photographers lay flat so they could get the best shots.

In the days that followed, pictures of Moran appeared on magazine covers around the world. According to Wimbledon champion Jack Kramer, it made her the Anna Kournikova of her time; a beautiful woman with a beautiful body. "If Gussie had played in the era of television, no telling what would have happened," he said. "Because, besides everything else, Gussie could play."

Gertrude Agusta Moran was born in Santa Monica, California, to Harry Moran, a sound technician at Universal Studios, and his wife, Emma. The young Gussie began taking tennis lessons at 11, and later played at Santa Monica High and on travelling junior teams.

After the publicity around her match at Wimbledon in 1949, she was signed up for the professional tour of the US.

After retiring, she toured with the United Service Organisations, who entertained troops, and was once on a helicopter that crashed in Vietnam. She did various stints on radio and television, including a sports talk show for six years in New York. In her retirement years, when asked to reflect on the furore around her dress, she said she was happy that modern-day players such as the Williams sisters could be flashy and unashamed in their court fashion.

She was married three times, resulting in an annulment and two divorces, and had no children.

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