Ten­nis fan Joh hav­ing a ball

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TV - DEB­BIE SCHIPP

WHEN self- con­fessed sports nut Jo­hanna Griggs missed host­ing du­ties at the Aus­tralian Open ten­nis last year in favour of fi lm­ing Seven’s hit re­al­ity ren­o­va­tion se­ries House Rules, she made a men­tal note to also ren­o­vate her sched­ule.

Griggs’ ap­point­ment as host of House Rules was a gig too good to miss.

But the ten­nis fan in her – which had been fed each Jan­uary for more than 15 years co- host­ing Seven’s cov­er­age of the Aus­tralian Open – wanted it all.

And as 2014 swings into gear, Griggs has man­aged to fi nd it.

Net­work bosses, and Griggs’ tire­less work ethic, mean she’s back at the Aus­tralian Open as evening host, and has still man­aged to work on se­ries two of House Rules and

another sea­son of Bet­ter Homes

and Gar­dens.

“It was a lot of ne­go­ti­a­tion and Seven was just fan­tas­tic,” says Griggs.

“I just had to be back be­cause I’m a ten­nis tragic.

“They were say­ing, ‘ But it’s so much work’, and I was re­ply­ing, ‘ It’s not like work for me, I re­ally adore it’.

“Un­til last year, ev­ery day of Jan­uary for more than a decade I had been liv­ing and breath­ing it. And, greedy as it is, I missed it.”

The Aus­tralian Open is the shin­ing light in Seven’s sum­mer sched­ule, but you get the im­pres­sion Griggs would line up to be part of it even if there was no­body to broad­cast to.

“I played a lot of ten­nis grow­ing up, and the choice I made was one be­tween ten­nis and swim­ming,” she says.

She chose swim­ming, and in 1990, aged just 16, won a bronze medal for Aus­tralia at the Com­mon­wealth Games in Auck­land.

Post- swim­ming, she be­gan her tele­vi­sion ca­reer, and sport and ren­o­va­tion have been run­ning themes in both her ca­reer and per­sonal life ever since.

Along­side Aus­tralian Open ten­nis du­ties, she has co- hosted sev­eral Olympics and

Sportsworld.

Her ren­o­va­tion worlds have col­lided on and off screen. She and hus­band Todd Hug­gins have a con­struc­tion com­pany, mean­ing Griggs not only talks the talk, but also walks the walk on Bet­ter Homes and Gar­dens and House Rules.

“I love it ( ren­o­va­tion). I’ve done it for tele­vi­sion on shows in­clud­ing Auc­tion Squad, House Calls to the Res­cue, Bet­ter Homes and

Gar­dens and House Rules, and it’s my life away from tele­vi­sion as well,” she says.

But for now, it’s all about the ten­nis, and Griggs says, the best fort­night of sport in Aus­tralia each year.

“My fas­ci­na­tion for it has only be­come stronger in 15 years of host­ing it,” she says.

“I love the lead- up tour­na­ments, I love get­ting across the sta­tis­tics and who is in form.”

She even sheep­ishly con­fesses that while she was ab­sent from last year’s broad­cast, she kept her ten­nis stats and records up to date.

“It was just habit … and maybe the hope I’d be back,” she says.

“When you live and breathe it for a month you can’t help but watch all the re­sults for the rest of the year.

“The other thing was I thought if I don’t get back in there and they keep fi nd­ing fab­u­lous peo­ple to re­place me, what if I never get to co- host it again?

“This tour­na­ment has grown so much in 15 years – both na­tion­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally.

“Ob­vi­ously it’s the fi rst grand slam of the year, and I reckon that fi rst week is hands- down the best value for money out of any sports event in Aus­tralia. “You can get a ground pass for be­tween $ 20 and $ 30 and you have the chance of see­ing all the world’s top play­ers.

“And that’s what we of­fer in our cov­er­age – the world’s best in our coun­try.

“My ex­cuse for watch­ing all of the lead- ups is to see who is in great shape lead­ing into the Open.

“Then you’ve got your ab­so­lute class cham­pi­ons – like ( Roger) Fed­erer, who just knows how to prime for the big ones. I love Fed­erer. He’s a class act.”

Af­ter the ten­nis, Griggs will dive straight back into fi lm­ing House Rules. She rel­ishes the jug­gling act.

“There was a lot more travel in 2013, but I’ve got great back- up at home with Todd and the boys – well, they’re men now, I shouldn’t call them boys – are older now and set­tled.

“Life’s pretty awe­some for me. I have no com­plaints.”

I just had to be back be­cause I’m a ten­nis tragic

AUS­TRALIAN OPEN TEN­NIS

Cov­er­age daily from 9am Mon­day on South­ern Cross and 7TWO

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