Meet tennis icon Annabel Croft, a former Wimbledon semi-finalist turned passionate mentor (and star of Strictly Come Dancing!) and explore her dynamic tennis academy which is shaping the next generation of tennis champions…
Annabel has had the most magnificent, varied career. From being amongst the world’s top 25 tennis players at age 21, but tired of the travel and pressure, she retired from tennis and became the face of Treasure Hunt after Anneka Rice. Annabel has gone on to have a superb career as radio and TV presenter and has covered Wimbledon and worked for Sky Sports and Eurosport. In 2009, Annabel and her late husband Mel started the Annabel Croft Tennis Academy together, which has been thriving since at Pine Cliffs in Portugal. She’s also appeared on various lifestyle shows including GMTV and This Morning.
Annabel has been inspiring women nationwide during last years season of Strictly with her energy and grace following the heartbreak she has been through after the loss of her beloved husband, and despite her packed rehearsal schedule, we managed to catch up with her:
Q: You’ve had such a sparkling and varied career from tennis pro to broadcaster. Is there any particular period, career or show that has been your favourite as you look back?
I have always enjoyed all the varied work I have undertaken over the years – the most fun I had was in 5 years of pantomimes, which taught me a lot about being on stage and using my voice. Radio 5 has always been my biggest learning curve in broadcasting and it is so good to work with incredible broadcasters including Clare Balding, John Inverdale and Mark Pougatch etc the list goes on
One of my favourite tv show roles was on Treasure Hunt, which took me all over different parts of historical Great Britain and I loved it.
Q: Congratulations on your exceptional Strictly performances, everyone marvels at how fit you must have been going into the show and you’re inspiring so many of us. What does your usual fitness routine look like?
My usual routine is running with girlfriends 4 times a week and enjoying coffee afterwards. I also love my yoga and keeping my eye in at tennis with great friends for a gentle hit and a giggle.
Q: We have worked very closely with Mel and team sending clients to your fantastic Tennis Academy at Pine Cliffs in Portugal. We are so very sorry for the loss of Mel for you and your family, friends and the academy team. Can you tell us what inspired you to set up the academy with Mel and what your vision is for the exceptional Tennis Academy there
We had always wanted to use my years of experience in the world of tennis to pass on knowledge and inspire anyone and everyone to pick up a racket and start to play no matter what level, ability or age. Portugal is like a second home to our family so when the opportunity arose Mel and I jumped at it and Mel was very proud of what he achieved with setting it up and running it. We have a great team there and players also benefit from the beautiful surroundings of Pine Cliffs
Q: Do you have any particular favourite holiday destinations you have loved to travel to with your family?
We obviously love Portugal a lot and will always visit there but we also loved our family holiday one year to the Caribbean and Antigua.
Q: Have you ever been on a ‘wellness holiday’ or retreat to just focus on yourself and your own wellbeing?
I never spend enough time doing that but I definitely want to! I tend to use the spas at hotels we have stayed in for a treatment or massage.
Q: We’re all so in awe of you right now and assume you’re not planning to stop working any time soon?.. What might we see Annabel do next after Strictly?
I will continue to enjoy tennis broadcasting and hosting / interviewing and who knows what the future holds but I love working and when you do something you love, you never feel like you do a days work in your life!
It’s clear that whatever she turns her hand to, Annabel inspires others. Whether it is inspiring activity through tennis at the Annabel Croft Academy in Portugal or inspiring the nation with her TV Strictly performances, it’s clear that her Annabel’s strength and poise will continue to inspire others throughout the next stages of her career.
The Annabel Croft Tennis Academy at Pine Cliffs, Portugal
We send a regular stream of clients who are keen to try the intensive tennis camps at the Academy at Pine Cliffs. Once they’ve experienced the coaching there and seen their game improve, they’re queuing up to return. These are exceptional week-long or weekend experiences, which work on all areas of the game from footwork and ball positioning, perfecting a serve, spin, net play and strategies and tactics in your game. The academies also work for beginners through to advanced plays and for juniors and teens too, so it’s a superb option for an energising solo escape, an active couple’s weekend or a family half term holiday. The Academy also has a Padel tennis court which offers private coaching. If you don’t want the intensity of a two-hours-a-day academy, then just book in for the odd private lesson or simply hire a court to play with friends.
Pine Cliffs is an exceptionally beautiful 5 star resort with multiple dining options, excellent spa, fitness and golf facilities and it sits on a magnificent stretch of beach. The resort and tennis academy is open all year round and with the Algarve boasting over 300 days of sun each year, it’s an exceptional backdrop for upping your game.
A 7 night stay at Pine Cliffs costs from £1250 per person based two sharing and travelling in low season and staying in a deluxe hotel room, bed and breakfast including flights, transfers and 10 hours of group coaching Monday to Friday.