Teddy Tinling: The Leaning Tower of Pizazz

By Australian Tennis Museum

For over 30 years, Teddy Tinling dressed female champion tennis players. The Nationally significant clothing collection at the Australian Tennis Museum includes a stunning array of Tinling originals designed for our home-grown tennis champions.

Tinling's Tennis Fashions by N R FarbmanLIFE Photo Collection

Teddy Tinling

Teddy Tinling was known as the “The Leaning Tower of Pizazz”. With his 6-foot-7-inch stature, bald head and modish attire, he cut a swathe through any crowd, particularly in the world of tennis where he dressed most of the female champion players for over 30 years. Cuthbert Collingwood Tinling loomed large on the tennis fashion stage from the 1940s right up until his death in 1990. The Australian Tennis Museum collection includes a stunning array of Tinling originals designed for Mary Hawton, Jan O'Neill, Lesley Bowrey, Margaret Court, Dianne Balestrat and Karen Krantszcke.

Tinling's Tennis Fashions (1950-04-04) by N R FarbmanLIFE Photo Collection

Tinling's incredible career spanned the years from the constraints of the all-white tradition to the full-blown colour festival when he designed for the Virginia Slims circuit in America from the early 1970s. He was very proud of his success in America as a British designer.

Terylene swing tag Terylene swing tag (1950/1980) by ICIAustralian Tennis Museum

As a designer, he was at the cutting edge of his craft. He was always interested in experimenting with new fabrics - like Terylene and Lurex - but also ready to challenge the fashion norms of the time, in both style and colour. His name became synonomous with tennis fashion.

Mary Hawton tennis skirt (1940/1960) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

This white skirt was made by Tinling for Mary Hawton from 100% Terylene. Terylene was created in 1941 by a group of British scientists. It was advertised as a miracle fibre that could be worn for 68 days straight without ironing and still look presentable. A boon for women players travelling around the world on the international circuit!

Tinling's Tennis Fashions (1950-04-04) by N R FarbmanLIFE Photo Collection

Tinling carved out a unique niche for himself in women's tennis fashion from his early days as the designer of the controversial laced underwear worn by 'Gorgeous Gussie' Moran in 1949 to his designs for Billie Jean King in the Battle of the Sexes match in 1973 and beyond.

Gorgeous Gussy' pants ("circa. 1985") by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

These Gorgeous Gussy replica pants were made especially for the Australian Tennis Museum, as copy of the original pants he made in 1949 for Gertrude Augusta Moran to wear at Wimbledon.

The original pants caused such a scandal because they were seen by many Wimbledon Committee members to be too risque. The furore was largely the result of an unruly press coverage that saw photographers prone on the ground trying to photograph Moran's undergarments. (Very unseemly on the hallowed courts of Wimbledon!) Tinling was accused of bringing sin and vulgarity to the game of tennis while he maintained he was bringing feminine style back into ladies tennis apparel after the austere look during the war years.

Teddy Tinling racquet swing tag (1950/1980) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

White spaghetti strap floral dress (1950/1980) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

The Tinling Collection

The Australian Tennis Museum’s Tinling Collection shows his creative genius in designing individual dresses for players on the international stage. Take a closer look at the garments he designed for our home-grown Tennis Champions.

Mary Hawton white pleated dress (1940/1960) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

This Tinling creation was made from polyester fibre (67% terylene and 33% cotton), one of many designed for Mary Hawton (née Bevis).

Mary was born in Sydney, NSW, Australia. Her career spanned the end of the 1940s and the 1950s. Hawton won the women's doubles title at the Australian Championships five times and also won the mixed doubles title with partner Robert Howe. She also made the semi-finals of the women's doubles at Wimbledon.

Mary Hawton white with blue edge dress Mary Hawton white with blue edge dress (1940/1960) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

For his clients playing at Wimbledon with the all-white tradition, Tinling brought in subtle uses of colour bindings, monograms or skirt linings - but even this eventually raised the ire of Wimbledon officials.

Mary Hawton pink name motif dress, Teddy Tinling, 1940/1950, From the collection of: Australian Tennis Museum
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Mary Hawton blue name motif dress, Teddy Tinling, 1940/1960, From the collection of: Australian Tennis Museum
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Mary Hawton white dress with blue ribbon (1940/1950) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

Mary Hawton white gabardine A-line dress with a v-neck bordered with woven pale-blue velvet ribbon.

Mary Hawton gold flower dress (1940/1950) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

Mary Hawton dress with gold floral belt.

Mary Hawton pink bow dress (1940/1960) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

Mary Hawton white silk pique sleeveless A-line dress, with round neckline and one pink bow at the front pleat edged with pink striped piping.

Mary Hawton princess line dress (1940/1950) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

The Mary Hawton princess line.

Mary Hawton flowery bodice (1940/1960) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

Mary Hawton flowery bodice.

Mary Hawton lace dress (1940/1960) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

Mary Hawton laced dress

Mary Hawton brocaded dress (1940/1960) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

Tinling designed a similar dress to this example for Maria Bueno with bright pink lining.

Maria wore it at Wimbledon in 1962 but it was the final straw for Wimbledon officials who banned colour four months later.

Tinling said that "every new design I discuss with a Wimbledon player is considered with the spectators' tastes in mind".

His colour experiments were used to bring pleasure to the players and spectators.

Maria Bueno dress (1950/1960) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

Mary Hawton blue flower dress (1940/1950) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

After Wimbledon brought in the 'all-white' edict, Gussy Moran reportedly said, "Are they serious? If they want only one colour why don't they make it black? This would be appropriate mourning for the game they are trying to kill."

White broderie anglaise dress (1950/1960) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

Tinling was willing to comply with the Wimbledon all-white regulations and still created beautiful designs within these constraints. He designed this dress for Margaret Burston (née Hellyer), a tennis player from Sydney, NSW, Australia.

Burston's career spanned the 1950s-1960s. She reached the semi-finals of the women’s doubles at the Australian Championships and she twice made the doubles quarter-finals at Wimbledon.

Jan O'Neill dress with pleated skirt. (1950/1960) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

This creation was for Jan O'Neill (née Lehane; born 9 July 1941) who was a tennis player from Grenfell, NSW, Australia.

O'Neill's career spanned the 1950s-1970s. She was the first leading female player with a double-handed backhand., O’Neill won the mixed doubles title at the Australian Championships two times and made the finals of the women’s singles at the Australian Championships four times and the women’s doubles twice.

Lesley Bowrey 'wedding' dress (1950/1970) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

Nicknamed the 'Wedding Dress' this Tinling creation was made for Lesley Turner around the time of her marriage to Bill Bowery.

Lesley Bowrey (née Turner) was a tennis player from Trangie, NSW, Australia. Her career spanned the 1950s-1970s. Bowrey won the women’s singles title at the French Championships twice and reached the finals at the Australian Championships twice and the semi-finals at both Wimbledon and the US Championships.

Lesley Bowrey lace jacket (1950/1980) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

Lesley Bowrey also won the women’s doubles event three times in Australia, twice in France and once in the US and at Wimbledon. She also won the mixed doubles event twice at the Australian Championships and twice at Wimbledon.

Lesley Bowrey white and gold dress and jacket Lesley Bowrey white and gold dress and jacket (1950/1980) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

In this Tinling design a splash of gold is added inside the pleats and the jacket embroidered with gold.

Lesley Bowrey white and yellow dress (1950/1970) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

Tinling designed this white silk pique dress for Lesley Bowrey, with a subtle use of colour in the yellow bows on the neckline and skirt.

Karen Krantzcke lurex dress and pants Karen Krantzcke lurex dress and pants (1968-01-01/1977-04-11) by Cuthbert Collingwood "Ted" TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

This lurex outfit was for Karen Krantzcke, a tennis player from Brisbane, QLD, Australia. Her career spanned the late 1960s-1970s. Krantzcke won the women’s doubles at the Australian Open and made the women’s singles semi-finals at the Australian and French Championships and the quarter-finals at the US and Wimbledon Championships.

Karen Krantzcke tennis dress and pants Karen Krantzcke tennis dress and pants (1965/1977) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

Tinling had much greater freedom to experiment with colour on the American circuit where he worked as official designer for the Virginia Slims tournament.

Karen Krantzcke red and white dress and pants Karen Krantzcke red and white dress and pants (1965/1977) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

Tragically, Karen Krantzcke died at the early age of 31 when out jogging during her time playing on the Challenger circuit in the USA in 1977. The Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award is awarded annually to a female professional tennis player by the WTA in her honour.

Karen Krantzcke pink and white dress and pants with headband Karen Krantzcke pink and white dress and pants with headband (1965/1977) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

In his book 'Love and Faults', Teddy Tinling remembers receiving a letter from Karen a week before her death, saying how much she was enjoying life and how she loved playing tennis.

Karen Krantzcke ice green tennis dress and pants Karen Krantzcke ice green tennis dress and pants (1965/1977) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

Tinling had always tried to capture the unique personality and style of the players whom he dressed. Consequently, he formed many enduring friendships with the women champions who sought him out as their designer, including Karen.

Karen Krantzcke tennis dress (1965/1977) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

Karen Krantzcke mustard yellow tracksuit Karen Krantzcke mustard yellow tracksuit (1965/1977) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

Karen Krantzcke wore this tracksuit as warm-up attire.

Karen Krantzcke peach dress and pants (1965/1977) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

Karen Krantzcke pale yellow dress, pants and cardigan Karen Krantzcke pale yellow dress, pants and cardigan (1965/1977) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

This crimplene white and pale yellow dress and pants with spiral design on dress bodice in striped braid with matching cardigan, was designed also for Karen.

Karen Krantzcke ice blue and ice green dress (1965/1977) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

Dianne Balestrat (Fromholtz) zig-zag dress Dianne Balestrat (Fromholtz) zig-zag dress (1973/1990) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

Tinling made this dress for Dianne Balestrat (née Fromholtz), a tennis player from Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Her career spanned the early 1970s-1990s. Balestrat won the women’s doubles title at the Australian Open and made the women’s singles finals at the Australian Open, as well as the semi-finals at the French Open and US Open with a quarter-final showing at Wimbledon.

Simpson pink collar dress (1960/1980) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

In addition to players, Tinling also designed for sportswear companies like Simpson, which allowed off-the-rack purchases of his dresses for the general public.

Gordon Lowe panel dress (1960/1980) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

Blue linen blend dress with flower embroidery. (1950/1970) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

White spaghetti strap floral dress (1950/1980) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

Teddy Tinling was a master of tennis fashion and made an enormous contribution to the sport and its women players.

He was inducted into the International Hall of Fame in 1986.

White dress with floral panel and cardigan White dress with floral panel and cardigan (1960/1980) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

As stated on the ITHF website:

"Tinling was a brilliant tennis historian, umpire, consultant, confidant, and chief of protocol. He had as distinguished and all-encompassing career as anyone in history. Tinling also became the revered Chief of Protocol for the International Tennis Federation and a Director of International Liaison for the women’s pro tour."

White tennis racquet dress (1950/1960) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

"Tinling authored two books on tennis, the most notable being, 'Love and Faults: Personalities Who Have Changed the History of Tennis. He was burdened with respiratory problems throughout the 1980s and passed away in May 1990. According to published reports after his death, it was learned Tinling had been a British Intelligence spy during World War II."

Teddy Tinling racquet swing tag (1950/1980) by Teddy TinlingAustralian Tennis Museum

What a wonderful life.

Credits: Story

Producer: Joanne Sippel
Copyright: Australian Tennis Museum

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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