Dubai Duty Free serves up another ace

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Last night, fresh off a plane from Istanbul (more of which another time!) this writer high-tailed it across London to one of the summer season’s hottest tickets: the annual WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) Pre-Wimbledon Party.

Looking short next to the amazing Ana Ivanovic

I was a guest of Dubai Duty Free, the presenting sponsor of the event, which was held at The Roof Gardens in Kensington. Co-hosted by the WTA and Sir Richard Branson, it’s widely regarded as the tennis party of the year, and traditionally brings together “cultural influencers from the worlds of entertainment, fashion and sport”.

Talking tennis with Caroline Wozniacki

In other words, you couldn’t move for wall-to-wall celebs and, of course, some of the most famous female tennis stars on the planet. What a fabulous way to spend a Thursday.

As presenting partner, Dubai Duty Free inspired the event’s theme and decor, bringing the best of the Middle East to West London. Unfortunately it didn’t manage to bring any sunshine, but even the torrential rain and howling winds of what passes for summer in this country couldn’t dampen the spirits of the people who came to party. The Champagne flowed and the good times rolled, as we played ‘spot the celebrity’ and ‘count the pairs of Louboutins’ (I gave up at 37).

Celebrity tennis fans Elen Rivas and Caprice

With most of my senior colleagues in Amsterdam for the company’s second annual Airport Food & Beverage (FAB) Awards, my wing-man for the evening was none other than my LSS (long-suffering spouse), who earned his keep by taking photos of me with Dubai Duty Free Ambassadors and former World No.1s Caroline Wozniacki and Ana Ivanovic. By his own admission, he’s had tougher gigs.

Other professional players in attendance included Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams, Petra Kvitova, Li Na and Agnieszka Radwanska. In celeb terms, we reckon we spotted Professor Green, Millie Mackintosh, Mollie King, Caprice, Elen Rivas, Heidi Range, Kimberly Wyatt, Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, Tamara Ecclestone, Preeya Kalidas, Jenni Falconer, Laura Whitmore, Lizzie Cundy and Ashleigh and Pudsey.

With that sort of guest list, the photographers were out in force and a little trigger-happy perhaps, as even we, Mann United, managed to get “papped” on the way out. If I’m not in next week’s Heat magazine, I’m going to be VERY disappointed.

Thanks again to Dubai Duty Free for its wonderful hospitality, and congratulations on helping to stage such a great event. In tennis terminology, the evening was quite simply a smash hit.

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