Tennis poster dress made famous by Droitwich model to go under the hammer (From Droitwich Advertiser)
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Tennis poster dress made famous by Droitwich model to go under the hammer
1:53pm Friday 27th June 2014 in News
AN iconic piece of tennis memorabilia, made famous by a Droitwich model is set to go under the hammer on Wimbledon ladies' finals day.
A handmade dress – worn by Droitwich resident Fiona Butler (now Walker) in the famous Tennis Girl Athena poster - is being put up for sale on Saturday July 5.
Fiona Walker featured in the memorable shot, as a tennis player hitching up her skirt, in the summer of 1976 on a Birmingham University tennis court.
The picture, which was taken by Mrs Walker’s then boyfriend Martin Elliot, was sold to poster chain Athena and it went on to become the highest selling poster image of all time, selling more than two million copies worldwide and inspiring numerous imitations over the years by stars including Kylie, Frank Skinner, Ricky Gervais and Amanda Holden, who was recently photographed in her tennis whites.
Mrs Walker hadn't played tennis before and she borrowed the clothes and racquet from her friend Carol Knotts, who made the dress.
Ms Knotts, now a barrister, said: “I used to get a monthly allowance from my parents and in order to make it stretch that little bit further, I made my own clothes.
"As I played tennis at the local club in Stourbridge, I bought a ‘Simplicity’ pattern and made my own dress, complete with lace trim.
“Fiona was a friend and one day asked if she could borrow my dress and racquet. When she returned them, she gave me a big box of chocolates as a thank you.
“I’ve had the dress tucked away in a cupboard for all those years. It’s a little piece of tennis history and I hope someone might find it an interesting novelty item to buy.”
The dress, racquet and two posters are expected to sell for between £1,000 and £2,000.
Nick Davies, director at Fieldings Auctioneers, which is auctioning off the dress, said: “There’s a generation of people who will remember this poster very well, so it’s a good time to put it up for auction.
"This is the most famous tennis dress of all time yet it has never graced Centre Court.
"But it’s a piece of tennis memorabilia which we are sure will create plenty of interest – especially on Wimbledon ladies’ finals day."
Speaking to the Advertiser in 2011, she said: “I was very naive and was paid nothing, and I think it’s the biggest-selling poster ever.
“My mother has a very faded copy in what used to be my father’s study and I just have it in the form of a very small postcard.”
The dress and other lots in the sale can be viewed at Fieldings in Mill Race Lane, Stourbridge between 10am and 4pm on Thursday, July 3 and 10am and 8pm on Friday, July 4 ahead of the auction which starts at 10am the following day.