Dress from iconic tennis girl poster gets €19.5k at auction

Dress from iconic tennis girl poster gets €19.5k at auction

A white summer dress made famous in the iconic Tennis Girl poster of the 1970s has fetched £15,500 (€19,500) at auction.

The unique handmade dress with lace trim was made famous in a photograph taken by the late Martin Elliott featuring his then-girlfriend Fiona Butler.

Fieldings Auctioneers, which offered the dress today as a part of a lot which included the tennis racquet from the image, confirmed the dress had smashed its £2,000 estimate.

The then 18-year-old Ms Butler was immortalised in a cheeky pose walking away from the camera, with her right hand grasping a tennis racquet and the left resting on her backside.

Behind the camera was unknown commercial photographer Mr Elliott who sold the image licence to be re-printed in the 1977 Athena poster.

It went on to sell more than two million copies worldwide.

The identity of the female model was unknown until Ms Butler – who later married to become Mrs Walker, came forward a few years ago.

Before the auction in Stourbridge in the West Midlands, Nick Davies, director at Fieldings, said he expected the memorable dress, photographed on a Birmingham University tennis court in 1976, to have wide appeal.

The lot went under the gavel on the day of the Wimbledon ladies’ singles final.

Mrs Walker’s pose has been imitated by many over the years including pop star Kylie Minogue, comedians Frank Skinner and Ricky Gervais, as well as ITV1’s Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden, who was photographed in her tennis whites last month.

The dress was made by Ms Butler’s friend Carol Knotts, who said: “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.”

Mr Elliott, who made his name off the back of the picture’s global success, split with his girlfriend three years after taking the shot.

Although Mrs Walker, now 55 and living in Worcestershire, was never paid for the photo, Mr Elliott always said “I looked after her” – he died in 2010.

The dress and tennis racquet went under the hammer along with two copies of the iconic poster.

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