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Serena thanks Team Bath fans

Serena Guthrie has thanked the Team Bath Netball fans for their “unwavering support” throughout her illustrious career after today announcing that she is pregnant and retiring from playing at elite level.

The Blue & Gold legend – who first came to the club as a prodigiously talented 13-year-old from Jersey and developed into arguably the greatest mid-courter of her generation – had planned to hang up her bib after captaining England at this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

However, she has brought that decision forward following the “amazing surprise” that she and fiancé Bob Kersten are expecting their first baby.

“I’m feeling super excited to finally be able to share this news with everyone and I’m really looking forward to moving into what will be a whole new chapter of my life,” said the 110-cap international, who won four Superleague titles during two spells with Team Bath and was a driving force behind England’s historic Commonwealth Games success in 2018.

“The news came as a bit of a surprise but an amazing surprise. I’d always planned to go through to the Commonwealth Games this year but Bob and I were also planning to start a family as well. It’s a little bit earlier than expected but we’re both really excited and super happy about moving into parenthood and parent life.

“I’d always intended to retire after the Commonwealths, so I have made the decision to roll that retirement forward and I will be stepping away from the elite game and international game this year. This was a big decision for me to make and I’ve definitely not taken it lightly but it’s one that is one hundred per cent right for me. I’ve had incredible support for this decision from both Team Bath and the Vitality Roses.”

Guthrie had special praise for the Team Bath support staff, particularly Superleague Head Coach Anna Stembridge, and said she will remain very much part of the Blue & Gold family who are based at, and supported by, the University of Bath.

“I have felt really well supported in my journey so far and it’s great to be part of a franchise who have had recent experience of dealing with pregnant athletes and coaches,” Guthrie added.

“Anna has been great in letting me be me and giving me the space to figure out what I want to do for the club and also what I can do as well. We’re yet to fully determine what my role with Team Bath will be this year and moving forward but I will still be involved this season and supporting from the sidelines, being that cheerleader and energy boost for the girls!”

Guthrie, who describes herself as “Team Bath through and through”, first wore the famous Blue & Gold in the Superleague in 2006 aged 16. She went on to become a dynamic, inspirational figure for both club and country, winning four domestic titles and helping England take bronze at the 2011, 2015 and 2019 Netball World Cups, captaining the Roses at the latter tournament in Liverpool.

A University of Bath Hall of Fame for Sport inductee, Guthrie also enjoyed a successful spell in New Zealand and Australia from 2015 to 2018, playing for Northern Mystics and Sydney-based Giants Netball, before returning to Team Bath for the 2019 season. Her last match for her beloved club was the 2021 Grand Final against Loughborough Lightning.

“I’ve had an amazing career in the Blue & Gold and to the Team Bath fans, I want to say thank you for being an amazing part of my journey – my career wouldn’t have been as special without that support,” said Guthrie, whose final competitive outing was captaining England in January’s Quad Series final against Australia.

“I first played Superleague here when I was 16 years old and I’m now 32, so the supporters have been a part of my life for a really long time. Thank you for your unwavering support throughout the years.

“My biggest standout memory probably has to be one of the first titles we managed to win and playing with the likes of Pamela Cookey, Tamsin Greenway and Rachel Dunn. It was just such an incredible team to be a part of and those players had a huge influence on me moving forward into the England team as well. I had such a good start to be around such amazing athletes, so those are memories that I’ll definitely cherish forever.

“The most recent memory was Finals Weekend last season. It had been such a long time since Team Bath were able to get into a final and challenge for a championship. Last season was a great one for me and it was really good to be part of a team who are building towards success. I’m looking forward to seeing them hopefully go one step further this year.”

Stembridge, who has coached Guthrie with club and country, said: “Congratulations to Serena and Bob, It is absolutely wonderful news and so exciting for them both. Serena had been very open with me that this was going to be her last season in netball but the news has come sooner than she expected. I know fans will be disappointed not to see Serena on the court again but I also know how happy everyone in the netball community and beyond will be for her.

“It was important that we gave Serena the time and space she needed over the past few weeks to decide when she wanted to share this news. We’ve also worked closely with England Netball, particularly Jess Thirlby and the England doctor, to ensure her wellbeing physically and mentally was the priority.

“The Team Bath fans will definitely still be seeing Serena around, she wants to support the team as much as she can. We are navigating what that will look and feel like but it’s great that we’ll still have her off-court leadership, her knowledge and her insight into the Team Bath way.”

Current Team Bath captain Imogen Allison, a fellow mid-courter and team-mate of Guthrie for both club and country, said: “All of us are really excited for Serena, it’s amazing news. It’s such a great thing when one of your friends gets to be able to start on this new journey.

“Serena is an incredible team-mate, you wouldn’t want anyone else on your side. She’s amazing at leadership, hard work, everything about the sport but off the court she is such a great friend too. She is always there to support you, have fun, have a laugh.

“Serena has given so much to Team Bath and we will always be grateful for everything she has done for us.”

Team Bath Netball is supported by its Principal and Pathway Partner, chartered accountants Haines Watts; Rengen Developments, who are an overall Team Bath Partner; Centurion Chartered Financial Planners and Ecus Ltd, our environment partner. Team Bath’s suppliers include O’Neills, 2XU, Pulseroll and HALO Hydration

PIC : Ben Lumley

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