In Conversation with Annabel Croft | Epsom College
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In Conversation with Annabel Croft

Flying in fresh from presenting live at the French Open, we were thrilled to welcome former professional tennis player and current TV presenter and tennis commentator, Annabel Croft

As part of Sir Anthony’s series In Conversation with Remarkable Women, Annabel spoke about her tennis career, broadcasting journey and the development of her tennis academy, before moving on to discuss her time in Strictly Come Dancing and her family life.

Tennis career

Starting tennis at nine years old, Annabel was mainly driven by her tennis coach who had a great sense of humour. Winning the Nationals at age 12, Annabel began a lifestyle of international travel and achieved her dream of playing at Wimbledon at just 15. Attributing much of her success to being good at reading body language, she had to maintain strong mental and physical capabilities throughout.

Ranked 24th in the world, Annabel’s life on tour at age 21 was cut-throat and far from normal. It was at this point she decided it was time to withdraw from the professional tennis circuit and live a more normal life, including maintaining friendships, meeting her future husband, Mel Coleman, and having three children.

Her move into broadcasting

A career in TV came calling following her tennis success, with an enjoyable stint presenting Treasure Hunt. Annabel’s main TV career then developed into tennis commentary, which she said was perhaps surprising as, initially, she had a real phobia of public speaking. Sharing her technique of using notes with connecting bubbles around a few keywords, Annabel explained how this method really helped her overcome her fears of public speaking.

Annabel talked with great affection of her time on Strictly Come Dancing in 2023. Paired with the talented South African dancer, Johannes Radebe, she spoke of his dance expertise and incredible attention to detail when teaching her the dances.

Sadly, last year Annabel lost her husband Mel quite suddenly to cancer. Still managing the continuing grief and learning to live her life without him, Annabel spoke eloquently and gave valuable advice to the audience to ‘always live in the moment’ and ‘ensure we spend time with the people we want to be with’ as we never know what is around the corner. Mel had run Annabel’s successful Tennis Academy at Pine Cliffs, in Portugal, something that Annabel is still closely involved with today.

Sharing her thoughts and tales of famous tennis players, Annabel gave amusing and interesting accounts, providing the audience with a real insight into her life, both the highs and lows. Communicating brilliantly with the whole audience: from pupils, to parents and staff – there really was something for everyone and it was a hugely enjoyable evening.