She was cold, for god's sake. It was that simple. She wasn't trying to flout convention or good taste, or make some vague political statement. Anne White was merely trying to stay warm at Wimbledon in 1985. "I'm 5'11", and I had trouble keeping my leg muscles loose," she recalls. "So I wore the suit. I honestly didn't think it was that big a deal."
Of course, in a pre- Flo-Jo, pre-Venus world, and in the oh-so-proper confines of Wimbledon, her underestimation was positively Custer-like. The moment that White, then 23, stepped out of her warm-ups clad in an all-white Lycra unitard for her first-round match against Pam Shriver, it was, in fact, a titanic deal. Titters from the Court 2 audience brought curious fans pouring into the stands, while a shocked umpire—and a frosty Shriver—looked on. "By the end of the first game I realized what a stir it had caused," says White, who was actually wearing two suits because the material was so sheer. "Afterward [she lost in three sets], I was told not to wear the suit again. I was scared they would tell me to never come back."
White's lone regret is that the moment obscures a career of which she's very proud. An All-America at Southern Cal before turning pro, she climbed to No. 19 in the WTA singles rankings, winning the Virginia Slims in Phoenix in 1987 and eight doubles titles along the way, climbing as high as No. 9 in the rankings. After leaving competitive tennis in 1990, she dabbled in broadcasting and acting before moving to her present career, as an account executive with Cartier, based in Los Angeles. She sates her tennis jones at the venerable Los Angeles Tennis Club—"one of the prettiest places to play I've ever seen," says White—where she is an honorary member.
"I realize now that I was ahead of my time," she says with a shrug. "But I was just doing something I believed in: staying warm."