SERVING IT UP
Joh Griggs talks about life, love and the Australian Open
WHEN self-confessed sports nut Johanna Griggs missed hosting duties at the Australian Open tennis last year in favour of filming 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 find 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 cohosted 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 finding 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 first grand slam of the year, and I reckon that first 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 filming 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.”
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