Remembering Gussy Moran on Her 90th Birthday

Written by: on 8th September 2013
Remembering Gussy Moran on Her 90th Birthday  |

September 8th 2013. Santa Monica, California

Today would have been my dear friend Gussy (Gussie) 90th birthday. Gertrude Augusta Moran was born in Santa Monica California. This past January in Hollywood California Dear Gus joined the rest of tennis greats to the big grass court in the sky. Bless you dear friend. 
Gussy’s life was a great “five setter “. She faced life’s ups and downs and adversity with wisdom and dignity and bravery. I’ve known a lot of great old champions. There is nothing like the heart of a champion. Gussy played in an era when if you weren’t number one you were nothing. Hello WTA and ladies tennis you are the wealthiest female athletes on the planet. Wake up. Establish a retirement fund. Gussy shouldn’t have had to struggle for so much of her life. Neither should have Althea Gibson. These female athletes paved the way. Yet in their “golden years ” it was either $ for a roof over their heads or food or medicine. Bare bones. Totally. Thank god both ladies mentioned were looked after by quiet friends within the tennis community who helped out. Althea just got a U.S. postage stamp. Finally something to honor an amazing athlete and an even more terrific lady. The stamp doesn’t do Althea justice. She was thin build with a perfect tennis body. The stamp makes her look too muscular. Ok. Similar subject.  Ever notice how the USTA messed up the statue of Arthur Ashe. That body build isn’t his? Yikes. It’s a nice tennis statue. But it’s not Arthur Ashe anything. Not his legs. Not his service motion. Nothing. ….

Gussy’s talent was overshadowed by her looks. Similar to Anna Kournikova. Anna was a great player but the emphasis was on her beauty. Gussy was thrown into the world press by wearing her lace panties at Wimbledon in 1949. Read the stories on 10sballs.com (She has her own section – “ALL Gussied Up”) It wasn’t so much the lace trim or the shorter skirt it was Gussy had a pair of legs that were possibly the best in tennis. (Maybe the world) .The best figure. Those legs. The great writer of “Boys of Summer ” Roger Kahn, Recently told me a story of how Gus was asked to leave Vero Beach spring baseball training camp because no one could take their eyes off of Gussy Morans legs.

Gorgeous Gussy was brilliant, funny and witty. But she also was involved in the game before the money came into the sport. In 1949 she played the in the United States Indoor championships.  She won the singles. The doubles. And the mixed doubles with the great Pancho Gonzales. She said Big Pancho would never hit a ball hard near the opposing lady. She thought he was a great guy they were friends from LATC from the juniors. The great Bill Tilden trained 
Gussy. Gussy knew everyone in Hollywood. She had a bit part in Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy’s ” Pat and Mike ” check it out some great tennis scenes. Weekly Gussy played either with Charlie Chaplin or against him. Followed by lunch. Wikipedia says they had lunch together once. Sorry wrong. It was once a week.

Gussy was beautiful till the day she died. We never actually played together but we talked tennis all the time. She loved the modern game. She loved the players. The clothes. The importance of her making tennis sexy in 1949  … She set the standard. She raised the hemline. She put ladies tennis on the map. She had racehorse named after her. Ships. Plays. She was engaged to handsome dashing men all over the world. She broke hearts the way she broke serve. With that big forehand.

She did say one thing she hated about the new version of tennis was night tennis. Night session. She said it was terrible. How can you expect a world-class athlete to perform when their body clock is winding down to go to dinner or go to bed. I think all of Britain would agree …  I think with this year US Open scheduling the defending champion Andy Murray on court for a first round match on Wednesday night after ten pm. to walk on court to defend his title?

Andy she loved you, you too Jimmy Connors, Donald Young, Julie Heldman, Williams sisters, Pete Sampras, Roger Federer, the Woodies, the Bryans, Tracy Austin, Martina Navratilova, Sharapova and of course Anna K. Just to name a few.

Today we will have a dry vodka martini with two olives and toast the greatest sex bomb that ever stepped on a tennis court. 
As Big Bill Tilden said. ” God bless Gussy and those lace panties ”

Contributing Editor’s Note - I read this late last evening. She did have a huge impact on the way that women present themselves, for want of a better world, today. All those innovative outfits were possible because she wasn’t afraid to address (pun intended) the cross-over that is athletics to entertainment. It’s so much a part of the game now that it has always seemed as if was as it is. It wasn’t. Gussy changed all that with a pair of lacy panties.

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