Tennis Girl  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Tennis Girl poster is a hugely popular iconic photograph. It shows a young woman from behind walking towards the net of a tennis court with a tennis racquet in her right hand and her left hand reaching behind lifting her short tennis dress, showing she is not wearing any underwear.

The photograph was taken by Martin Elliott in September 1976 and features then-18-year-old Fiona Butler, his girlfriend at the time. The photo was taken at Birmingham University, Edgbaston, Birmingham, using a borrowed dress, racquet and balls.


The poster was first published as part of a calendar by Athena for the 1977 Silver Jubilee, the same year Virginia Wade achieved the Wimbledon ladies singles title.

The poster achieved widespread distribution when licensed to the poster shop Athena in 1978 where it sold for £2. It sold about 2 million copies by the time Athena collapsed in the early 2000s.

The model Fiona Butler has stated "I'm not at all embarrassed about that photo."

Popularity and parody

The image is much sought after by collectors and celebrities including Jonathan Ross, Ricky Gervais and Adrian Pearce from BBC Radio 1's Newsbeat .

Over the years the picture has been parodied by various people as diverse as Alan Carr [1] and Kylie Minogue.

The episode 3 of season 3 of The IT Crowd features the poster on a joke: "It's an original!".

In the satirical Spitting Image the poster appeared in the background or even was in the sketch a few times.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Tennis Girl" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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