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Former British number 1 Annabel Croft talks tennis and her love of the region

It was the perfect match: a leading tennis academy set up by a former British women’s number 1 and the family-friendly luxury resort of Pine Cliffs in Albufeira. The Annabel Croft Tennis Academy was officially launched on April 25, and for the tennis player and television sports presenter, the location couldn’t be more ideal: “I have holidayed here [in the Algarve] for almost 30 years and it feels like a second home to me. We missed one year in that time, and the kids have been here every single year since they were newborn babies. We have a really close connection to Portugal, so when the opportunity came up to be associated to Pine Cliffs and open an academy, it just felt so perfect,” Annabel told Essential earlier in the spring.
Visiting the Algarve with husband Mel Coleman on the occasion of the academy launch – the second to open abroad after Aphrodite Hills in Cyprus –, the popular sports presenter also spoke to Essential about the current state of the sport. “Tennis is amazing right now,” she said. “I’m privileged to follow the main tour with all the top players, they’re global icons.”
Noting that women’s tennis has dropped behind men’s at the moment – “it comes in cycles so it can easily swing the other way” –, the former tennis professional believes that the current generation of players is particularly special. “They are icons that have transcended the sport. Djokovic, Murray, Federer, Nadal… When you think of what they have achieved at such a young age, I don’t think we’ll see it like that in another 50, 100 years. It’s a particularly special era and I don’t think that people witnessing it realise how special it is.”
By Cristina Alcock