ANNABEL CROFT, a former British tennis number one, retired from the sport aged 21, and went on to present Channel Four’s Treasure Hunt among many other TV shows.
She travels the world commentating on the big matches, and will be covering Wimbledon.
She has three children with husband Mel.
Why is Wimbledon so special?
Players love the traditions, like playing all in white. They can wear colours all year round apart from these two weeks. Wimbledon keeps up standards which we’re losing in life, don’t you think?
How does it compare with other Grand Slams?
Paris crowds bring a bit of panto with their booing and hissing, America has its razzmatazz, Australia is relaxed and fun, but Wimbledon is the pinnacle. Everything is pristine. It’s perfect.
Are you a member at Wimbledon?
Yes, but like everyone else I had to apply and be accepted by a committee. I go three or four times each week for lunch or a bit of a game. It’s a huge part of my life.
Do you miss playing?
I’m way past that. In fact I think, ‘thank God it’s not me.’ It’s a gladiators’ battle where you’re exposed psychologically. I couldn’t handle the mind set needed. I’m happy commentating.
How is the Women’s game now?
After many years Serena Williams isn’t dominant any more due to taking time off for her baby, so it’s a bit like the Grand National. Any one of around 20 can win.
And the Men’s?
It’s in transition. Federer, Djokovic and Nadal are being chased by the next generation, players like Cilic and del Potro. And never write off Andy Murray. He’s short of match practice, but he has a champion’s mentality.
What’s it like walking out on Centre Court?
It’s a wonderful feeling, but spooky. Often I hear the ghostly voices of the past. It’s like being in a cathedral.
Sounds like you are spiritual. Are you?
I’m not sure. I was in a musical a few years ago and the director was a white witch. He said his spells were prayers. He made me think there’s more to be discovered.
Did he try to convince you?
He wrote on a bit of paper, held his hands apart, and I placed mine between his. I said I could feel hot and cold air blowing on them and a tingle in my hands. He turned over the paper and he’d written my words verbatim.
You have 24 hours left to live. How do you spend it?
Not playing tennis, that’s for sure! I’m happiest sharing food and wine with friends, so I’d do that looking out on water. Maybe in India. I’ve always wanted to go there. I’d invite Tom Hanks for fun, and Ed Sheeran to sing.