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Tennis pin-up turns the other cheek

Athena's famous tennis girl has turned the other cheek 35 years after she posed for a world-famous poster.

Fiona Walker has been reunited with the image to promote what organisers are billing as the first exhibition on lawn tennis as an art subject. More than two million copies of the Tennis Girl poster, which will appear in the exhibition, have been sold worldwide.

The 52-year-old was known as Fiona Butler when she posed in tennis gear for the poster aged 18, hitching her skirt to reveal a bare bottom.

She said: "I think it's the light that makes it so appealing."

She added: "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."

Ms Walker revealed she had no regrets, but added that she had "no idea whatsoever" that the poster, which was used in a calendar, would become so popular.

She said: "It never ceases to make me smile when I see it sometimes. I see it in very strange places. I think my children tell people that it's me but most people don't believe it."

Martin Elliott, the photographer behind Tennis Girl, who was the model's boyfriend when he took the snapshot, died last year at the age of 63.

Professor Ann Sumner, who has curated the exhibition, said the poster was the image that was "most associated with tennis in this country", adding that it "fits in very much with the tradition of putting young girls with tennis rackets that's existed over the last 150 years."

Artists such as LS Lowry and Stanley Spencer are also featured in Court On Canvas: Tennis In Art, which runs from May 27 to September 18 at The Barber Institute of Fine Arts at the University of Birmingham.

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