Not since cameramen unabashedly lay flat on the court to peer underneath "Gorgeous Gussie" Moran's hemline and take photos of her celebrated lace-trimmed panties in 1949 has Wimbledon seen a fashion stir quite like the one brought about Wednesday by Linda Siegel.
This time the prying photographers were scurrying for elevated vantage points from which to expose the backless, braless tennis dress the attractive 18-day-old Californian wore during a 6-1, 6-3 loss to Billie Jean King.
Only a couple of thousand people saw the dress on the flesh. But it seems as if all London, and half the rest of Great Britain, got a wide-eyed look at it on the front page of this morning's tabloids.
A couple of times during her match, the amply-endowed Siegel momentarily fell out of her frock.
With split-second timing and a sure touch on the shutter, the ace cameramen of the Sun and Daily Mirror - London's cheesecake tabloids - captured the most revealing moments. The full-page photos they ran this morning displayed rather more of her cleavage than Siegel had intended.
"Game, set . . . out." trumpeted the head-line in the Daily Mirror. A smaller, sub-headline proclaimed: "Win or bust at Wimbledon."
The accompanying story was similarly full of double entendres. "The daringly low-cut outfit gave a stunning display of her form," chuckled the Mirror.
"Would she drop out of the championship? Would an awkward bounce be her undoing? The thriller kept all heads turned one way."
Opponent King said the eye-popping dress did not bother her a bit.
"That's great, if she's happy. The audience sure was happy," she grinned. "If you're well-endowed, you might as well show it."
The newspapers that missed Siegel's peekaboo show flocked to her hotel this morning, requesting a repeat performance. Photographers asked her to pose topless. When she refused, they suggested topless but arms akimbo. When she refused again, they asked for bathing suit shots.
"We didn't follow up today because she didn't play this afternoon. But we will when she plays doubles tomorrow," said a reporter from an evening newspaper.
"They should reschedule her doubles matches for Centre Court," he added with a wink, "But can you imagine the fall-out?" CAPTION: Picture, Linda Siegel fell with barely a whimper to Billie Jean King Wednesday but match had revealing moments. AP