Tennis Girl dress sells for £15,500 at Stourbridge auction

Stourbridge News: (7942656) (7942656)

THE iconic dress featured in the famous Tennis Girl poster sold for £15,500 when it went under the hammer at a Stourbridge auction.

Fieldings Auctioneers based in Mill Race Lane sold the handmade dress, featured in the Athena poster depicting a female tennis player hitching up her skirt, at a sale held on Wimbledon ladies' finals day on Saturday July 5.

The dress, racquet and two posters had been expected to sell for up to £2,000 but such was the interest they went for nearly eight times that amount.

Auctioneer Nick Davies, director at Fieldings Auctioneers, said the dress had attracted the attention of tennis fans around the world but he could not reveal who finally managed to get their hands on the high-profile piece of tennis memorabilia.

He said: "It's been phenomenal. The vendor was slightly staggered but really delighted with all the interest. We had live internet bidding going on and interest from as far afield as Australia and New Zealand."

Stourbridge snapper Martin Elliot was an unknown 29-year-old commercial photographer when he took the shot that made him famous – on a Birmingham University tennis court in the summer of 1976.

The image went on to become the best selling poster image of all time, selling more than two million copies worldwide and inspiring numerous imitations by famous names over the years.

The model pictured in the legendary shot was Fiona Butler (now Walker) – the photographer’s then girlfriend who borrowed the dress and racquet from her friend Carol Knotts, who made the outfit, complete with lace trim, with a Simplicity’ pattern in a bid to save cash.

Carol, now a barrister, said since that now famous photo shoot the dress had been “tucked away in a cupboard for all those years” .

Fiona, now 55 and living in Worcestershire, who went on to marry businessman Ian Walker, was reportedly never officially paid for the photo shoot but Martin Elliot, who died in 2010, at the age of 63, always maintained he "looked after her”.

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