Game, set and a flash; How the girls brought a new frill to Wimbledon.
The crowd gasped and photographers threw themselves to the ground to get better pictures of the shocking pants.
It was modest attire by today's standards but that afternoon in 1949 changed the tournament for ever.
Until American Gussie appeared women were hampered by everything from long skirts - like those worn by Blanche Bingley, six times women's singles title winner from 1886-1900 - to corsets and high heels.
Then, to the horror of the upright members of the All England Club, the ladies' outfits - or rather the lack of them - began to cause as much excitement as the games.
Maureen "Little Mo" Connolly expressed her individuality in the Fifties with alternative fabrics and detachable skirts.
Outfits worn by Lea Pericoli, of Italy, generated so much excitement they were kept top secret until she appeared. She caused a sensation in 1964 in a dress trimmed with white fur worn with a pair of very frilly knickers.
Rosemary Casals was the first to be sent off court to change her clothes after she appeared in a dress with purple squiggles in 1972.
Another embroidered with "You've come a long way baby", was also banned.
After that, prematch inspections became the norm.
With her slinky, figure hugging mini-dresses Chris Evert ensured complete mobility on the court as well as being number one tennis pinup during the Seventies. In 1980 teenage prodigy Andrea Jaeger, famous for her long schoolgirl hair bunches, looked like she was taking part in a games lesson with her unsexy outfit.
Unknown American Anne White shocked with a white lycra catsuit in 1985. She was banned from wearing it the following day.
Two years ago even Martina Hingis, normally known for her no-frills outfits, wore revealing bikini style briefs.
The following year she reverted to more matronly underpants.
Monica Seles pushed the rules to new limits with a see-through dress over clingy white bodysuit last year.
And men stood on boxes and benches this year to ogle Russian Anna Kournikova in her microdress, perhaps the shortest ever seen at Wimbledon.
Victorian Blanche would live up to her name at the very thought.
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|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Jun 28, 1999|
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