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1990s / Wimbledon Streaker - 1996
A young female streaker, wearing a big smile and little else, pranced across Centre Court moments before the men's 1996 Wimbledon final. The 23-year-old streaker's name was Melissa Johnson. With her courage bolstered by a few drinks, Johnson climbed over a barrier at one end of the court and dashed the length of its periphery--passing in front of finalists Richard Krajicek and MaliVai Washington as they posed near the net for pre-match photographs. Johnson, who had been working at a Wimbledon pizza stand, wore only a tiny maid's apron. She was quickly escorted off the court near the Royal Box by two policemen. Both players broke into laughter, as did most of the 14,000 fans. Washington paused a moment and then doubled over trying to contain his laughter. Walking back to the baseline to begin his warmup, the American lifted up his tennis shirt to bare his own chest and received a large ovation. "I look over and I see this streaker ..." said Washington, who lost to Krajicek in straight sets. "Gee, she smiles at me. She had on an apron. She lifted it up and she was still smiling at me. I got flustered, and three sets later I was gone. ... That was pretty funny." Johnson was taken to Wimbledon police station where she was held until the end of the match. A Scotland Yard spokeswoman said "no further action" would be taken. Usually stiff and proper, the All England Club was unexpectedly light-hearted regarding the moment. "Whilst we do not wish to condone the practice, it did at least provide some light amusement for our loyal and patient supporters, who have had a trying time during the recent bad weather," a club statement said. A Centre Court spectator, 57-year-old travel agent Peter Goord, said Johnson's streak even drew a humorous reaction from the royals in attendance. "When she got in front of the Royal Box, she lifted it up and showed everything off," Goord said. "The Duke of Kent was laughing like mad. She then ran into the policemen's arms. There was no way she was trying to get away." Wimbledon officials had expressed concern before the opening of the tournament that a streaker might appear--coaxed on by several of Britain's large bookmakers offering odds on it happening. Before the tournament, William Hill bookmakers reduced the odds on a streaker interrupting Centre Court play during the final to 4-1. John McEnroe, doing commentary for NBC, apparently approved of the goings-on. "We need a replay from every possible angle!" he excitedly exclaimed. His broadcast partner, the distinguished Dick Enberg, reminded McEnroe that it was "a family show." Replied McEnroe, "My family would love it!!!"