Annabel Croft dances into the spotlight on Strictly Come Dancing

Annabel Croft is stepping into a world of sequins and cha-chas as she aims to overcome her nerves on Strictly Come Dancing.

Here the former tennis star turned television presenter opens up about her motivations, her challenges, and what she’s looking forward to on the dance floor.

Annabel’s lifelong passion for dancing is no secret. She confesses, “I’ve always absolutely loved watching Strictly and always secretly wanted to be asked to do it.”

Annabel Croft & Johannes Radebe
Annabel Croft & Johannes Radebe. Credit: BBC/Ray Burniston

The tennis ace continues: “I think dancing is so special, it’s so expressive and it’s free – there aren’t many things in life that bring joy in life that are free and dancing is one of them. I’m so grateful there is a good old fashioned show [Strictly] that everyone in the family can sit down and watch, a proper entertainment show.”

Despite her experience as a TV presenter, Annabel admits she’s naturally a bit shy. She’s well-acquainted with holding a microphone in front of thousands, but dancing before a live audience is a different ballgame.

“I’m naturally quite a shy person,” she confesses. “It’s about being able to get rid of those inhibitions and let go, so I think that will be the challenge of my partner to bring that out of me.”

Annabel is not only excited about the dance but also the dazzling costumes and makeovers. “I love fashion so much,” she exclaims. The beautiful dresses, the glitter, and the glamour are all part of the Strictly experience that she’s eagerly anticipating.

Annabel fondly remembers some iconic Strictly moments. She chuckles, “Definitely Ed Balls doing Gangnam Style with Katya… it was one of the most hilarious moments on Strictly. Iwas roaring with laughter, it was just so cheeky and funny. That’s what good old fashioned entertainment is about isn’t it.”

Annabel’s dance journey began with ballet when she was just four years old. She adored the art form and even drew inspiration from ballet legend Margot Fontaine. However, tennis took center stage in her life, putting her dance aspirations on hold. She wonders how her balletic foundation will translate into the Latin and Ballroom styles of dance.

Annabel Croft pictured in a golden dress in front of a glittering blue background
Annabel Croft. Credit: BBC/Ray Burmiston

As for preparation, Annabel humorously admits to attempting ballet turns while making tea. She knows she needs to regain her suppleness, stiffened over the years by tennis. Although she hasn’t received specific advice from past contestants, she believes that not taking oneself too seriously and maintaining a smile are vital on the Strictly stage.

When asked about her biggest competition, she’s humble, stating, “It’s about my journey and trying to be better at dancing than when I started.”

Annabel’s focus isn’t fixed on the glittering prize. “Definitely not,” she says about aiming for the Glitterball Trophy. “That glitterball seems a million miles away and I’ve not even given it a second thought. Lovely to admire and look at it but seems very far away!”

Strictly Come Dancing continues Saturday, 30 September on BBC One.