Annabel Croft’s Emotional Journey: Finding Joy and Healing Through ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ After Husband’s Tragic Passing
Annabel Croft, the tennis star, has been grappling with profound grief since her husband, Mel Coleman, passed away in May, only weeks following a cancer diagnosis. To honor her late husband, who was an avid fan of the BBC1 show, she has decided to participate in “Strictly Come Dancing” as a means to cope with her heartache and discover moments of happiness.
Reflecting on the past few months, Croft shared, “It’s been a terrible, terrible time,” and tearfully added, “There’s not been a day I haven’t cried. That’s why I think I’ll be able to distract myself with something absolutely wonderful.” She sees this as an opportunity to immerse herself in something beautiful, surrounded by amazing people.
However, the absence of her husband of 31 years during her dance journey is heart-wrenching for Croft. She revealed, “He always loved the show and he used to cry watching it. So I’m completely heartbroken that he’s not here to watch with me.” Mel Coleman, a former America’s Cup yachtsman, succumbed to stage 3 cancer at the age of 60, just two months after complaining of stomach pain.
Despite her resilience, Croft returned to work soon after her husband’s passing, participating in post-match interviews at the Wimbledon finals and overseeing the trophy ceremony. While her professionalism was admired by fans, she’s hopeful that “Strictly Come Dancing,” which begins on Saturday, will provide her with a source of joy.
She stated, “It’s about having some joy, just learning something new, listening to the music, hopefully just going with the flow. I’ve never done anything like it before, but I’m willing to give it a go. I hope it’s fun, and I won’t take myself too seriously.”
Croft’s three adult children, Charlie, Amber, and Lily, are excited and supportive of her decision to participate in the show, knowing that it brings her joy. They have even offered dance tips, encouraging her to “loosen up” on the dancefloor. This close-knit family often enjoys holidays together in their camper van, affectionately known as “Vanabelle.”
Croft’s existing fitness regimen, which includes running, tennis, yoga, and padel, will contribute to her physical readiness for the show. She is an ambassador for padel, a racket sport that she says helps keep her spirits high during difficult times. In the 1990s, she even released her own fitness video.
Annabel Croft first gained fame in 1982 when, at the age of 15, she became the youngest Briton to compete at Wimbledon in nearly a century. She retired from professional tennis at the age of 21. Despite her sporting background, she doesn’t plan to be competitive on “Strictly,” except with herself. She explained, “Only with myself because I think even as a tennis player, you are competitive with yourself. You want to reach perfection for yourself.”
She acknowledges the vast differences in dancing abilities among the contestants, describing them as “amazing.” Although she has previously referred to “Strictly Come Dancing” as a “terrifying prospect,” Croft embraces professional and personal challenges, including her role at Wimbledon in July. She stated, “I’ve been conducting tennis interviews for many, many years, but obviously hosting the Wimbledon finals was the biggest thing I’ve ever done.” Overcoming her fears and pushing her boundaries has given her increased confidence over the years. She believes that pushing oneself is a valuable life lesson.
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