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White dress from the Tennis Girl poster to go under the hammer
9:21am Thursday 26th June 2014 in News
A WHITE summer dress made famous in the seminal Tennis Girl poster of the 1970s is to be auctioned.
The unique handmade dress with lace trim rose to fame in a photograph taken by the late Martin Elliott featuring his then-girlfriend Fiona Butler, and it is expected to fetch £1,000 to £2,000 when it goes under the hammer at Fieldings Auctioneers in Stourbridge.
Fittingly the dress, along with a tennis racquet and two posters, will be sold on the day of the Wimbledon ladies' singles final - Saturday, July 5, from 10am.
Ms Butler, then aged 18, was captured in a cheeky pose walking away from the camera, with her right hand grasping a tennis racquet and her left resting on her backside.
Then an unknown commercial photographer, Mr Elliott sold the image licence to be re-printed in the 1977 Athena poster, and it went on to sell more than two million copies worldwide.
Nick Davies, director at Fieldings Auctioneers, said he expected the memorable dress, photographed on a Birmingham University tennis court in 1976, to have wide appeal.
Mr Davies 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."
Ms Butler'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 earlier this month.
The dress was made by Ms Butler's friend Carol Knotts.
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."
Mr Elliott, who was made famous by the picture, split with Ms Butler three years after taking the shot.
She was never paid for the photo, but Mr Elliott always said "I looked after her" - he died in 2010.
Now 55, Ms Butler has since married and lives in Worcestershire.
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