Hard not to love – Tennis, sun and Portuguese food

by Central Magazine

Annabel Croft was back in the Algarve for the 'Winners' Cup' which takes place at her own tennis academy at Pine Cliffs Resort in Albufeira.

Article Cover Photo

Annabel Croft, known as one of the greatest former professional tennis players, who ranked amongst the world’s top 25, started playing tennis at the young age of nine. Admitting it was during her family holidays in Spain when she “first picked up a racket”, her love for tennis grew massively after that. Within three years she became the ‘National Champion’ in Great Britain for three different age groups. “Then I was given a wild card into Wimbledon at the age of 15”, she stated, making history as she became the youngest player to compete at Wimbledon for 95 years.


Tennis and Entertainment career

Annabel won both the Wimbledon and the Australian Open girls’ single tournaments in 1984, which only showcased her immense potential and opened the doors to a very powerful career. Nonetheless, despite her success, Annabel decided to retire from professional tennis far earlier than anyone was expecting, at the age of 21. “I think to be the best you can be at something, you have to give up on a part of your life, and I definitely gave up on my junior years”, she shared, adding, “I realised that I had done everything I wanted to do in terms of professional tennis.”

Credits: Supplied Image; Author: Annabel Croft;

Luckily, she was presented with plenty of options within the entertainment industry, straight after she retired from professional tennis, beginning her illustrious media career as the face of ITV’s ‘Interceptor’ and Channel 4’s ‘Treasure Hunt’. Annabel also makes reference to last year’s Wimbledon Finals Ceremony as being her biggest job ever done, “I pinch myself sometimes with the career I’ve had.”

Credits: Supplied Image; Author: Annabel Croft;

Connection to Portugal

Going back to Portugal, where she has been holidaying with her family for over 30 years, in order to be present at the 13th edition of the ‘Winners’ Cup’, she has mentioned how much she loves Portugal. Thinking about the future, Annabel, mum-of-three, also stated that she would like to develop some projects in Portugal, which would involve food. One of her dreams would be “combining tennis and cookery, in a unique event”, as she revealed that “Portuguese food is wonderful.”

This year’ ‘Winners’ Cup’ event took place during the weekend of 24-25 February and involved not only tennis but padel and golf activities, for all-age players. Annabel’s busy schedule doesn’t allow her to be present every year, but she has mentioned that she is “really excited to take part in this year’s event.” In 2009, Annabel and Mel, Annabel’s late husband, launched together the Annabel Croft Tennis Academy located in the grounds of the Pine Cliffs Resort.

Credits: Supplied Image; Author: Annabel Croft;

What the future holds

Throughout 2024, Annabel will be hosting and providing commentary at all of the major tennis tournaments for Sky Sports and the BBC. Asked if her entertainment career surpassed her passion for tennis she answered, “That is impossible, I’ve never fallen out of love with the sport, I’m obsessed about it”, finishing promising that “I’m still going to very much be involved in tennis” as “that’s always going to be a big part of my life.” 

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