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Gertrude Moran was an American tennis star who played at the Wimbledon Tournament in 1949, and wished to play in a coloured dress set. At this time, and for many years thereafter, the All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club had very strict rules about the dress code of players, and playing in anything but pure white was verboten.

Gertrude Moran's answer was to send shock waves around the world, and was to make the 1949 Wimbledon Championships possibly the most widely publicised and fondly remembered in history. On June 20, 52 years ago, she appeared on the hallowed Centre Court wearing (for its day) a short tennis dress with ruffled, lace-trimmed knickers peeping out below the hem. They had been designed and sewn by Teddy Tinling, a former tennis player of note turned fashion designer. Of course he was to become famous in future years for his daring, and ravishingly frilly, tennis outfits for women players, but at this time he was comparatively unknown.

The effect was electric - this was the first time in history that ladies' knickers had been fully and intentionally put on broad public display. The dignified home of the All-England Club was not a burlesque house or music hall. Chaotic scenes developed as photographers fought with each other over back court areas where they could lie flat on the ground to catch the most risque shots of Gertrude's powerhouse serve for newspapers around the globe.

From my personal collection.


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Taken on January 29, 2008