33.1 C
Friday, September 29, 2023

It breaks my heart that late husband Mel isn’t able to see me on Strictly – he loved the show, says Annabel Croft

FORMER tennis ace Annabel Croft has told how she was inspired to go on Strictly by the sudden death of her husband who loved the show.

Sports broadcaster Annabel, 56, said she signed up to take part as investment banker Mel Coleman, who died in May aged 60, was often moved to tears when he watched it.


Annabel Croft has told how she was inspired to go on Strictly by the sudden death of her husband[/caption]


Annabel lost her partner, Mel, a former professional yachtsman, after he was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer[/caption]


She lost her partner, a former professional yachtsman, eight weeks after he complained of stomach pain and was subsequently diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer.

The couple, who met in 1987, had three now-adult children who are thrilled their tennis pundit mum is taking part in this season’s Strictly to help distract her from her grief and, she says, “find a little joy”.

Annabel, who at 15 was the youngest Brit to compete at Wimbledon for almost a century, said: “Mel always loved Strictly.

“He’d cry watching it and I’m heartbroken he’s not here to see it.


“It’s been a terrible, terrible time and there hasn’t been a day where I haven’t cried.

“That’s why I think it’s good I’m doing something that will distract me. To be distracted, to be spending time doing something so wonderful and beautiful, is amazing.”

Annabel, a junior Wimbledon champion at 18, insists she will not be competitive on the dance floor.

She said: “As a tennis player I am only competitive with myself. I don’t want to be competitive in the competition because we already know there are massive differences in how everyone moves and dances.


“I couldn’t possibly compare myself to a lot of them because they’re all amazing, so for me it’s about having joy and finding a little joy. I’m learning something new and I’m listening to the music and hopefully just going with the flow.”

Viewers will see the celebrities and professional dancers paired up next Saturday on the pre-recorded first show.

Annabel added: “It’s a big secret and we can’t talk about it but I’m thrilled with mine.”


Annabel was a junior Wimbledon champion at 18[/caption]


Annabel and Mel’s children, Charlie, Amber and Lilly, will be glued to the contest.

She said: “My two daughters are amazing dancers so they’re especially excited.”

Annabel recalled earlier this year how she first heard about Mel by chance when she was feeling down at the US Open.

Fellow tennis star John Newcombe was giving the then 21-year-old Annabel a pep talk, suggesting she should think about her aims in life as she seemed unhappy.


At the time, Annabel had been on the tennis tour for nearly six years and was lonely and stressed by the demands of competing.

She said: “As we chatted I got a text from my mother saying the BBC production office in Belfast were asking if I’d be interested in filming a programme about yacht racing.

“I’d never been on a yacht before, but it ended up with me, Eamonn Holmes and (former pop singer) Peter Skellern going off to Guernsey to shoot a programme where we learnt how to race a yacht.

“Mel, who had just got back from Australia after the America’s Cup, was one of the yachtsmen.


“After a day’s filming we’d all go to the pub, have dinner — it sounds weird, but I’d never really done that — and I remember thinking, ‘Gosh, this is really fun and normal. I want a bit more of this rather than getting up and putting on a tracksuit and stressing about whether my backhand is working today’.”

They married six years later in 1993 and went on to co-run a tennis school.

Before he died they hoped to travel around Europe in a campervan they had dubbed Vannabel.

She said then she was approaching it with a “sense of adventure”.


That spirit still shines through.


The couple met in 1987[/caption]

UPP:Universal Pictorial Press and Agency

Annabel and Mel shared three children Charlie, Amber and Lilly[/caption]
September 10, 2023 at 02:48AM

from The Sun


Related Stories

Most Popular Articles