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Strictly’s Annabel Croft says stories from other widows cut right through her

Annabel Croft has said a widow sharing her experience has been “emotional” for her, as she competes on Strictly Come Dancing.

The former champion tennis star’s husband of 36 years, Mel Coleman, died earlier this year, ahead of her competing on the BBC One show with professional partner Johannes Radebe.

She said: “It’s been quite emotional, I was telling Johannes that there was a lovely lady where we were rehearsing, who just stopped and took a moment to come and speak to me.

“And I actually got a bit emotional myself, because she started telling me that she also had just lost her husband of 30 years.

Strictly Come Dancing 2023
Annabel Croft and Johannes Radebe on Strictly Come Dancing (Guy Levy/BBC/PA)

Mr Coleman died in May, just 16 weeks after a cancer diagnosis.

Croft, 57, also said she has been inundated with fans contacting her to share their stories.

“I had never had any concept of grief before, and now obviously I’m dealing with it in the most painful way, so I’m pleased with what we’re both doing together can help other people, but it has been quite a journey,” she said.

Croft also said that before she went on the show, she thought “I might be a bit of an embarrassment to my children”, and has been able to understand dancing with the aid of Radebe.

She told him: “You are always quite positive about breaking down movements very carefully for me, so I could try and watch and copy and understand how you achieve a movement.”

Radebe says Croft does not “realise how beautiful some of these dances land on her body” and that “she’s a natural-born dancer”.

He said: “I said after this competition, I want to take her to pro-am, I want to take on the dance floor and compete against other people.

“I want to see how she would fit, because I do think that dancing looks beautiful on her.”

Pro-am is when a professional dances with an amateur during a ballroom dancing competition.

Croft has been in the competition as the show enters Blackpool Tower Ballroom week, and she performs American smooth to Unchained Melody by Benedetta Carett.

Strictly Come Dancing airs on Saturdays and Sundays on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.

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