Genie Bouchard: Let’s write about talent, not looks
On April 25, 1949, LIFE ran this article about Augusta (Gussie) Moran of California. Under the headline “Gorgeous Gussie” they wrote: “If good looks could be translated into points on the tennis court, the girl above would probably be the Wimbledon champion this summer.” And further: “Although duly impressed with her skill, sportswriters were careful to note that Miss Moran has lively green eyes, the face and figure of a movie starlet and is the most attractive raw material they have to write about for some time.”
“. . . attractive raw material . . .” I mean, really.
The LIFE writers had a negative effect on Moran’s life. She did qualify to play in Wimbledon that year, but media coverage focused on the ruffled pair of white short-shorts visible under her skirt. Visible underwear was a first for Wimbledon, and it created plenty of tittle-tattle. Even British Parliament debated the scandalous ruffles.
In a 1988 interview with the Orlando Sentinel, Moran said, “I was embarrassed . . . because they were putting so much adulation on the character, ‘Gorgeous Gussie’. You know, I was really never anything to write home about. I was a plain girl. But LIFE magazine ran a picture calling me Gorgeous Gussie, and the British picked it up and did a real job with it. Then people would see me and I’d hear them say, ‘I’ve seen better-looking waitresses at the hot-dog stand.’ I just went to pieces. Emotionally, I couldn’t handle it.”
If only they had stuck to writing about her powerful forehand.
Tomorrow Eugenie Bouchard plays in the Wimbledon Ladies’ Singles Final. Our Canadian player makes headlines for her meteoric rise in the rankings, her aggressive style of play—and her stunning beauty.
Last year’s Wimbledon champion, Marion Bartoli, made headlines for her unusual serve, her use of two hands on both forehand and backhand—and her less comely appearance.
Genie Bouchard and Marion Bartoli play tennis differently but successfully, and their physical attractiveness has nothing to do with it.
My friend’s daughter danced competitively. Most days she didn’t wear make-up or fuss with her hair, but for dance competitions she applied stage make-up and styled her hair perfectly. When she put on the barely there outfits so common in dance, people said, “Oh, you look so beautiful!” She said, “Don’t tell me how beautiful I look. Tell me how well I dance.”
Whatever happens on Saturday, don’t tell Genie Bouchard how beautiful she looked; tell her how well she played tennis.