Fiona Walker has one of Britain’ best-known bottoms. But few people would recognise her face – the face of a woman whose cheeky lift of her tennis skirt became famous on the Athena poster.
The tennis bottom went on to become one of the poster chain’s best-selling prints.
Yet, ironically, Mrs Walker said she has little interest in tennis and the balls lying on the court were actually ones used to throw for her pet dog.
Walker had to borrow the tennis dress from a “friend of a friend”, which she wore with her father’s plimsolls, using the “the dog’s” tennis balls as a prop.
Nevertheless, the picture forms the centrepiece of an exhibition on tennis as an art form in Birmingham’s Barber Institute from May.
Curator Professor Anne Sumner said Tennis Girl was the image “most associated with tennis in this country.”
Walker is now a 52-year-old freelance illustrator and mother of three.
But in 1976, aged 18, her then photographer-boyfriend Martin Elliot persuaded her to let him take a shot of her on court hitching up her dress to reveal a bare bottom.
“I think it’s the light that makes it so appealing,” said Walker.
The setting was a university tennis court in Edgbaston, Birmingham, where the modern game of tennis was pioneered in 1859.
Elliot, who died in March last year aged 63, sold the image to the Athena and more than two million copies were sold worldwide.
Walker said: “I think my children tell people that it’s me but most people don’t believe it.
“I was very naive and was paid nothing, and I think it’s the biggest-selling poster ever.”
She said she had no regrets about doing it though.
“It never ceases to make me smile when I see it sometimes. I see it in very strange places.”