Tennis Girl

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Tennis Girl

The Tennis Girl is a popular poster.[1] It shows a young woman from behind walking towards the net of a tennis court with a tennis racquet in her right hand and her left hand reaching behind lifting her short tennis dress, showing she is not wearing any underwear.

Creation[edit]

The photograph was taken by Martin Elliott in September 1976 and features 18-year-old Fiona Butler[2][3] (now Walker),[4][5] his girlfriend at the time.[6] The photo was taken at Birmingham University tennis courts in Edgbaston, England.[6][7][8][9] The dress was hand-made by Butler's friend Carol Knotts, from a Simplicity Pattern with added lace trim.[10] Knotts also supplied the tennis racquet, with all of the borrowed items later returned by Butler to Knotts after the shoot with a box of chocolates.[10] Butler borrowed the plimsolls from her father, whilst the tennis balls were those used as playthings by her family's pet dog.[3]

History[edit]

The image was first published as part of a calendar by Athena for the 1977 Silver Jubilee, the same year Virginia Wade achieved the Wimbledon ladies' singles title.[11] Athena then negotiated a license to distribute the image as a poster,[11] where from 1978 it achieved widespread distribution, selling over 2 million copies at £2 per poster.[1][8]

Butler, who broke up with Elliot three years later, said in retrospect that she was not embarrassed about posing, nor bitter that she did not receive any royalties from the photo.[1][9] Butler (now Walker) is a mother of three, who works as a freelance illustrator in Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire.[3][10] Elliott died on 24 March 2010.[12] Knotts, now a barrister living in Gloucestershire, put the dress and racquet up for sale at an auction on 5 July 2014, the day of the 2014 Wimbledon Championships – Women's Singles final.[10] It was sold for £15,000, whilst the bade price of the dress was between £1000-£2000.

Parody[edit]

Over the years the picture has been parodied by various people as diverse as former tennis star Pat Cash, comedian Alan Carr to singer Kylie Minogue, with actor Keith Lemon featuring his parody in his 2012 calendar.[9]

It was also featured in an advertisement for a tennis video game called Davis Cup World Tour for the Sega Genesis / Mega Drive.[13]

As an election promise for the 2012 Belgian elections, a 22 year old Belgian woman from Sint-Truiden promised to publish a nude photo shoot when receiving 1,000 votes. She released a picture of her in the Tennis Girl pose prior to the elections.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Sheppard, Fergus (6 July 2007). "70s poster icon is back, so anyone for Tennis Girl?". The Scotsman. Retrieved 18 January 2011. 
  2. ^ "Tennis poster girl and her classic pose". Birmingham Post. 13 July 2007. Retrieved 28 June 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c "Tennis Girl Model Revealed". BBC News Online. 23 March 2011. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  4. ^ "Picture perfect". South Wales Evening Post. 23 March 2011. p. 2. 
  5. ^ Mcdermott, Nick (23 March 2011). "I was that cheeky tennis girl says 52-year-old mother of three". Mail Online. Associated Newspapers. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  6. ^ a b "That poster is back - at £300 a print!". Metro.co.uk. 5 July 2007. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  7. ^ Oliphant, Will (12 July 2007). "We've got to the bottom of a poster mystery!". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  8. ^ a b Hough, Andrew (2 April 2010). "'Tennis girl' poster photographer Martin Elliott dies of cancer". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  9. ^ a b c aalholmes (2 April 2010). "The Tennis Girl". Iconic Photos. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  10. ^ a b c d "Athena Tennis Girl poster dress up for auction". BBC News. 26 June 2014. Retrieved 26 June 2014. 
  11. ^ a b Aspinall, Adam (11 June 2006). "Serial killer's deucey poster". Sunday Mercury. Archived from the original on 31 October 2010. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  12. ^ "Tennis Girl poster photographer dies". BBC News. 2 April 2010. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  13. ^ "Take advantage with Sony!". Game Dummy. Retrieved 18 January 2011. [dead link]
  14. ^ bbd (20 September 2012). "Truiense gaat toch niet naakt voor 1.000 stemmen" (in Dutch). De Standaard. Retrieved 20 November 2012.