Cheeky Tennis Poster Girl Revealed 35 Years On

Fiona Walker poses with a picture of herself as the eighteen year-old 'Athena tennis poster girl'

The woman in a hitched-up tennis dress whose cheeky pose adorned countless boys' bedrooms has revealed she had little interest in the sport and was wearing her father's plimsolls for the shot.
Fiona Walker was 18 when she became the sun-dappled subject of the "Tennis Girl" poster on a court in Birmingham, central England, in 1976.

Athena bought the rights to the poster, more than two million were sold and it became one of the iconic images of the 1970s.

Now she has posed with the original image -- albeit more soberly dressed this time -- to promote an exhibition of tennis as an art form.

Walker, now a 52-year-old freelance illustrator with three children, said her then boyfriend Martin Elliott was a photography student when he persuaded her to pose for the shot.

She was not keen on tennis, borrowed the footwear from her father and wore a tennis dress of a "friend of a friend". The balls on the court were ones she used to throw for her pet dog.

Walker revealed that despite the huge popularity of the poster, she has remained almost anonymous -- and received no royalties.

"I think my children tell people that it's me but most people don't believe it," 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."

She added: "It never ceases to make me smile when I see it sometimes. I see it in very strange places."

"It has a place in the history of tennis. I think Martin Elliott would be very proud of the fact that his picture is in the exhibition," she added.

Elliott died last year.

The picture goes on show at the Barber Institute in Birmingham on May 27, less than a mile from the garden of a villa in suburban Edgbaston, where the sport was first played.