Strictlys Annabel Croft says late husband was huge fan of show before tragic cancer death

Annabel Croft has said her late husband was a “huge fan” of Strictly Come Dancing but she will not be taking herself “too seriously” on the dancefloor this year.

The former British number one tennis player and broadcaster is among the star-studded line-up of the new series of the BBC’s flagship show.

Annabel, 57, was the youngest Briton to compete in the Wimbledon Championships for almost a century at the age of 15. She then became a junior champion at the tournament in 1984 at the age of 18.

She's now said that taking part in Strictly has “come at the right time for me” after announcing the death of her husband Mel Coleman, who had been diagnosed with cancer, in May.

The former America’s Cup yachtsman, who co-ran a tennis school with Annabel, was diagnosed with stage three cancer after complaining of sudden stomach problems, reported the Mirror.

Annabel was confirmed for Strictly earlier this month, alongside stars including Love Island's Zara McDermott, former TV newsreader Angela Rippon, EastEnders' Freddie Slater actor Bobby Brazier and TV presenting legend Les Dennis.

She told the PA news agency: “I’m so excited to be taking part in the programme.

“I’ve always been a big fan of the show, my husband was a really huge fan of it.

“So (it’s) just exciting to do a new challenge and have fun in the process. Not take myself too seriously.”

The 21st series will be judged by Shirley Ballas, Anton Du Beke, Craig Revel Horwood and Motsi Mabuse. Returning to present are show regulars Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly.

OK! used an AI tool to exclusively predict the winner of this year's show, with some strange results.

Annabel, who is an ambassador for padel tennis, was speaking at the launch of the new court at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre in London on 14 August and said she hopes the new facility encourages more people to take it up.

She said: “I think it’s slightly easier to play than tennis, tennis has a lot of different elements to it. Padel is a different type of bat, it sounds really good when you play.”

Padel is one of the fastest-growing sports in Europe and is Spain’s second most popular sport after football.

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