WIMBLEDON, England. July 1996. A 23-year-old London student, Melissa Johnson, her courage bolstered by a few drinks, 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 photographs. This girl gets popints off for having to get courage from a bottle, and the fact that she wasn’t fully naked, but she was damn close. Johnson, who had been working as a catering assistant at Wimbledon during her summer holidays, was topless and wore only a tiny maid’s apron, which she lifted up dependuing on whether she wanted to reveal her top or bottom. She was quickly escorted off the court near the Royal Box by two policemen. Both players broke into laugher, 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 later was to lose to Krajicek. “Gee, she smiles at me. She had on almost like 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. Once again a female got away with it. 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 the streak even drew a humorous reaction from the royals. “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 expressed concern before the opening of the tournament two weeks ago 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.
It was believed to be the first incident of streaking ever at Wimbledon. Johnson graduated from Manchester University with a degree in graphic design.
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