Annabel Croft Reveals How 'Bittersweet' Strictly Stint Has Helped Her Deal With Her Husband's Death

"It literally has distracted me from all of that pain," the former tennis champ told ITV's Loose Women

Annabel Croft has said Strictly Come Dancing has “distracted her from all the pain” of her husband’s death.

The former tennis player has spoken candidly about how she has found the experience of appearing on the BBC ballroom show both healing and emotional, after her husband Mel Coleman died in May, just weeks after he was diagnosed with cancer.

Appearing on Thursday’s edition of Loose Women alongside dance partner Johannes Radebe, Annabel said taking part on Strictly was “bittersweet” as Mel used to love watching the show.

She said: “Obviously the grief comes in waves and there are many days where you’re just sobbing at home, but with Strictly and meeting Johannes and going on this journey together, it literally has distracted me from all of that pain.

“And there are days – I mean, poor Johannes has had to cope with quite a few in the rehearsal rooms and everything. But you [Johannes] give me so much purpose to get up in a morning and come and dance.”

Annabel Croft and Johannes Radebe on Loose Women
Annabel Croft and Johannes Radebe on Loose Women
Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock

She continued: “I have such fond memories of Mel in our kitchen calling us all in to watch Johannes because he just thought he was amazing, he would pause Strictly and watch it back.

“It’s bittersweet because I really wanted them to meet and I’m heartbroken Mel isn’t here to see this journey.”

During last Saturday’s Strictly, Annabel and Johannes performed an emotional Couple’s Choice routine dedicated to Mel, which had head judge Shirley Ballas in tears.

The couple scored a total of 35 out of 40 for the dance, which was set to the Birdy song Wings.

Announcing her husband’s death in a statement earlier this year, Annabel said: “My beloved husband Mel passed away peacefully on Wednesday morning after a short battle with cancer. My family and I are completely heartbroken and ask for privacy at this very sad time.”

The couple married in 1993, and share three grown-up children, Charlie, Amber and Lilly.

Loose Women airs weekdays at 12.30pm on ITV1, with Strictly Come Dancing returning on Saturday at 6.05pm on BBC One.


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