Wimbledon is swinging into action once again – and Mollie King is here for it.
“It’s one of those things that makes you feel really proud,” says the 35-year-old.
“There’s so much history, and even if you don’t follow tennis really closely, there’s so much to fall in love with. Like all the traditions – Henman Hill (or Murray Mound, as it’s now called), the strawberries and cream. It’s just a lovely event we can all get excited about over the summer.
Former star of The Saturdays – who just announced on Instagram she and fiance Stuart Broad are expecting their first baby later this year – grew up in southwest London, and remembers seeing people queue up to get into the tournament grounds as a child.
“I used to watch it with my parents [on TV]. I’ve got two older sisters and they love it as well, so that’s always been a thing in our family. Over the last few years, I’ve been lucky enough to get tickets to go a few times… Feeling that excitement when you’re sat in the crowd, it’s just really special.”
This year, she’s getting even closer to the action, hosting a new podcast with fellow BBC Radio 1 presenter Matt Edmondson called Wimbledon: Between The Lines, in partnership with official Championships sponsor, evian. Direct from SW19, the pair will interview a range of special guests throughout the event (they’ve just finished the first episode when we speak).
As well as tennis stars, like Swiss player Stan Wawrinka in episode one, they’ll delve behind the scenes too, chatting with people who help make it all happen – “like ball boys and ball girls”, says King. “I’m so intrigued about their training, and what they have to do.”
So what about King’s own tennis skills – does she play? “It depends who you ask,” she laughs. “I like to think I play tennis. But if you ask somebody who’s actually any good, they’d be like, ‘Mollie, I’m not sure you’re a natural tennis player’.
“If I go on holiday, I will always sign up for tennis and stuff like that. I like to be quite active when I go away, and I’ve had a couple of lessons. I wouldn’t say I’m a natural player by any means, but I do love throwing myself into sports and having a good go.
In fact, sport was a big part of King’s life before she shot to fame with The Saturdays in the late Noughties (the band achieved 13 top 10 hits before going on hiatus in 2014).
A talented skier, she became a member of the British Children’s Ski Team by age 11, and later skied for the British Alpine squad.
Since winding down on the music front, she’s carved a successful presenting career on BBC Radio and is excited about where things are headed on the TV front too – recently wrapping up filming a UK reboot of reality dating show Beauty And The Geek, due out later this year (“I laughed, I cried, I was so emotionally invested – I hand on heart think it’s a brilliant show celebrating such wonderful people,” she shares).
Fitness is still important for King – but now it’s more about looking after herself. “Being quite disciplined with my fitness is something that is comforting to me, and I take a lot of joy out of it,” she says. “I like to mix up what I do, whether that’s a gym workout, playing sport, a Pilates class.
“For the last few years, I’ve been doing a thing on my Instagram, which is all about movement – and I’ve been overwhelmed by the response from it,” King continues, explaining that it started as a personal daily movement challenge during a bout of January blues – a “time of year I find quite difficult”.
It really helped, and King says: “That’s something I really got into, and I think I will always do now. It’s been really good for my mental health and helping me stay positive.”
Describing herself as an “overthinker” and “an anxious person”, she’s found it helpful to share these things on social media, giving her a sense of community online.
During lockdown, she started doing gratitude lists too. “That was so beneficial for me,” she says. “I found that writing things down, just small things – that was making me feel really positive and happy when I woke up in the morning.
“But I think the biggest thing, alongside exercise, [has been] talking to my family and friends. I think if you have people around you that you trust and feel like you can be 100% yourself and be open and honest with, that makes such a difference. It’s so important to be able to talk to your loved ones.”
Now life’s ramping up again, she acknowledges the challenge is to make sure self-care doesn’t slip to the bottom of the priority list – which is why King values “being disciplined” with her routines.
When it comes to her career and new projects, she tries to stay tuned in to her passions. “A couple of years ago, I did a vision board – I always like to dream big and try my best to keep growing with every opportunity,” she says. “To be able to be in the band, and now be in a completely new chapter with presenting, it just feels really exciting.
“I’m definitely somebody who likes to have goals and something I’m striving for, but I am also somebody that – it sounds a bit corny – but I like lead with my heart.
If something comes in that I feel excitement in my belly for, then I know it’s an opportunity I should take, rather than getting down to the nitty-gritty business side of it. I like everything to feel like a passion project.”
Mollie King and Matt Edmondson host new podcast Wimbledon: Between The Lines, created in partnership with evian – official water of The Championships, to celebrate 100 years of Centre Court. Available to download now from your favourite podcast provider, with new episodes released throughout the tournament.