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Strictly’s Annabel Croft on sudden death of millionaire husband, her heartbreak and ‘final wish’

She is the tennis star turned TV presenter but not Annabel Croft is hoping to do her husband’s memory proud on Strictly Come Dancing 2023.

Annabel, now 57, met husband Mel Coleman in the 1980s and the pair were married for 30 years before his tragic death.

Mel was a millionaire from his day job, and Annabel had been a tennis ace who burst onto the scene aged 15 before being forced to retire early due to career setbacks.

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Now Annabel is hoping to do her husband proud from up above as she takes on Strictly Come Dancing with professional partner Johannes Radebe.

How did Annabel Croft’s husband Mel Coleman die?

Annabel said in a statement that was released in early June: “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.”

It’s been a terrible, terrible time,” she recently admitted to The Mail On Sunday. “There’s not been a day I haven’t cried.”

Annabel Croft with husband Mel Coleman
Annabel Croft with husband Mel Coleman
(Image: PA)

Mel, who was 60 when he died in May 2023, was a professional yachtsman and investment banker who married Annabel in 1993 when the pair were 30 and 27.

Mel, who met Annabel in 1988 when she was filming a show about yacht racing in Guernsey, had a passion for sailing and competed in many top events such as America’s Cup and the Admiral’s Cup.

Mel had a very successful day job as an investment banker, which saw him amass an estimated net worth of £13m working for firms such as Morgan Stanley.

He had complained of ‘stomach pains’ and was dead just eight weeks after being diagnosed with cancer.

Annabel Croft on her tragic final wish for her husband

On the Strictly launch show as she burst into tears, Annabel told her pro dance partner Johannes Radebe: “I just wish you had met my husband, because I have these flashbacks to our house and him watching you with tears running down his face.

Annabel Croft with Johannes Radebe on Strictly Come Dancing 2023 launch show
Annabel Croft with Johannes Radebe on Strictly Come Dancing 2023 launch show
(Image: BBC)

“Honestly, it’s so special, it’s beyond anything I could put into words.”

She told the Independent: “My husband did love Strictly, he absolutely loved it,” she revealed, ahead of the start of the series. “He used to cry watching it. He used to call me over if I was cooking, and he was crying watching it. So, I hope he’s watching up there”

Annabel’s tennis stardom and career setback

Despite bursting onto the tennis scene at just 15 years old and being ranked amongst the world’s top 25 players, Croft retired from professional tennis at just 21. She said she was tired of the’ relentless travel’ and felt she no longer enjoyed playing. She had been dealt a series of tournament setbacks in the run-up to the decision. Immediately after her retirement, Croft became the new face of Channel 4’s prime time show Treasure Hunt, following Anneka Rice’s successful run. This was followed by her own show on ITV, Interceptor, and her TV career was born. More recently she has continued to work as a Wimbledon tennis presenter for the BBC as well as for Sky Sports, Eurosport and various other punditry appearances.

Does Annabel Croft have kids?

Annabel has two daughters and a son; Amber Rose, Lily and Charlie. The couple lived in Coombe, near Wimbledon, in the London borough of Kingston, and Mel Coleman was their father.

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