Annabel Croft shares regret ahead of Strictly Come Dancing stint

Annabel Croft says 'competitive' side will come out on Strictly

Annabel Croft has been struggling with her “inhibitions” in the run-up to Strictly and has now admitted she wishes she’d kept up her childhood passion for ballet.

“I want to get to the point where remembering the steps isn’t part of it anymore, it’s about going with it, with feeling,” the 57-year-old former Wimbledon champ declared.

“That will bring me back to my childhood days doing ballet when I was little, which took a back seat when I started tennis.”

She continued: “I do regret that a little that I didn’t keep up ballet as that would have kept me supple!”

Annabel added that tennis playing has “stiffened” her up, and that when she attempted a ballet turn recently, she struggled and “almost fell over”.

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However, the star had always fantasised about dance stardom in her childhood after taking ballet classes from the age of four.

Talking in a new interview ahead of her forthcoming Strictly debut, Annabel admitted how “mesmerised” she’s been by watching other performers – but that taking part in the show herself could be nerve-wracking.

She speculated that the biggest challenge for her, besides remembering her steps, would be “getting rid of any inhibitions”.

The sporting star, who won two junior Grand Slams in her time – both Wimbledon and the Australian Open – before becoming a pundit, added that she’s “not an extrovert”.

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She can regularly be seen interviewing players in front of an audience of 20,000 people – but that’s something that feels totally different for her.

“I’ve learnt how to cope with that situation, but to dance in front of lots of people is something completely different that I’ve not done before and I think I’m naturally quite a shy person,” she said.

“I’ve overcome the shyness for my job, but it’s about being able to get rid of those inhibitions and let go,” Annabel explained, adding that she thinks her partner’s main challenge will be to help enhance her confidence.

“[His role is] to bring that out of me. Let the music take control and to feel okay being silly and embarrassed.”

Annabel added that tennis involves some ballet-like qualities, which she perceives when watching Roger Federer, but that there are also some vital differences.

“Will it hold me back that there are footwork patterns in tennis that are engrained in my head and suddenly I’m having to move my feet very differently? We will find out!” she mused.

Meanwhile, rehearsing for performances has proved a distraction from the grief of losing late husband Mel, who died of cancer in May.

“I’m completely heartbroken he’s not here to watch [the show] with me… It’s been a terrible, terrible time and there hasn’t been a day where I haven’t cried,” the star recently told The Mail on Sunday.

Annabel, who became the youngest Brit to compete in Wimbledon in almost 100 years when she first exploded onto the scene aged just 15, added: “I think it’s good I’m doing something that will distract me.”

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