|By ALAN THATCHER|
|27 Nov 02
First of all, Vicky will be appearing in the National League for Lee-on-Solent, and aiming to deliver points for the well-appointed Hampshire club who signed her up after her controversial departure from her home-town Manchester team. But more of that later. For home-bird Vicky, who still lives with her parents, is busying herself with plans to move into her own house in the Manchester suburbs
“It’s in Swinton, just a couple of miles away from my parents’ home in Worsley,” explains Vicky, bubbling with enthusiasm at the prospect of furnishing her own place but worrying about the ability of an up and coming squash professional to earn enough money to repay her first mortgage.
More importantly, Vicky is quietly pleased about changes in her personal life. She is back in a relationship with fellow professional Stewart Boswell, the world number four from Australia.
Vicky first hit the headlines at last year’s British Open, when that now-famous picture spread, with Vicky posing on court in a black thong and sports bra, catapulted this delightful girl next door into a media frenzy that suddenly made her the most famous personality in the game.
Her own website (www.vickybotwright.com) attracted more hits for a while than Anna Kournikova, and she was bombarded with emails from admirers all over the world, including an offer from the Royal Lancashire Regiment to be their official mascot.
She received proposals of marriage, and messages of support from both men and women for helping to promote the game in such spectacular fashion. She even auctioned the infamous thong on her website for charity.
However, there was a painful and costly downside to the whole media madness. For Vicky, the loyal Lancashire lass who loves living in Manchester and supports Manchester United, suddenly lost her place in her home-town squash team. It still hurts today.
She says: “I really enjoy playing for Lee-on-Solent. It’s a great club, with excellent facilities and great support, and this season I feel I have really got to know the rest of the squad a lot more closely. But the way I lost my place at Manchester still makes me sick.
“I was offered a sponsorship by Dunlop, but turned it down because the terms were not really attractive. Unfortunately, as Dunlop ran the Manchester team, I lost my Dunlop sponsorship, I was kicked off the team, and had to go to the other end of the country to find a team to play for.”
With Vicky attracting such expansive media attention, it seemed a strange commercial decision to make. Squash Design stepped in to produce a signature range of clothing for her, but she has recently signed to the Wilson brand to be kitted out from head to toe in a deal that includes rackets, shoes and clothing.
She is once more in the media spotlight, but is looking forward to a happy and healthy 2003 to continue her rise up the world rankings.
Currently placed at 15, she is aiming for a place in the world top ten and, ultimately, would love to play for England.
For now she is busy helping Lancashire to further success in the Inter-County Championship and shopping like mad for Christmas presents and decorations for her new home.
This correspondent can confirm how well she is moving and how fiercely and accurately she is striking the ball, following a one-sided challenge at Lambs Club in London last week. “You were playing Vicky Botwright? You lucky so and so,” was the general response from my friends and colleagues.
Vicky’s fame is clearly still expanding. Untouched by all of it, she richly deserves all the good things that go with it.