SHIRLEY Ballas proved a BIG hit when she joined Strictly as head judge in 2017.
But who is the champion ballroom dancer and is she coming back for another series? Here’s the lowdown…
Who is Shirley Ballas, how old is she and what is her background?
Shirley Ballas, 57, is a British ballroom dancer who specialises in Latin dance and has won several championships earning her the nickname, The Queen of Latin.
She grew up in Wallasey in the North of England with her mother Audrey and brother David.
Her love of ballroom dance started aged seven when she took her first class in her local hall.
The talented youngster then started competing in competitions from the age of eight and, at 15 she moved to North Yorkshire to compete with British Ballroom Champion Nigel Tiffany.
They got engaged when she was 16 and a year later they moved to London.
However, she was then asked to try out to be Sammy Stopford’s partner, they fell in love and got married and went on to become one of the fastest rising couples in ballroom dance.
They danced together from when she was 18 to 23 and won all the major titles worldwide.
The pair then parted ways and she met Corky Ballas, who she married and had son Mark with in 1986.
Corky and Shirley competed together and won their first professional Latin title in 1984 and went on to win it a further eight years in a row.
In 1990, they moved back to the UK and went on to win the Open British Professional Latin title in 1995 and ’96.
Shirley was previously a judge on the American version of Dancing With The Stars
Will Shirley return to Strictly in 2018?
Shirley previously hinted she may not return to Strictly Come Dancing in 2018.
The head judge – who replaced Len Goodman on the judging table for 2017 – said she still hasn’t decided whether life in the limelight is for her.
But on April 4, 2018, The Sun exclusively revealed she WILL be back for a second series.
What is Shirley Ballas’ relationship with Derek and Julianne Hough?
In 1997, Shirley was on a teaching trip to Salt Lake City when she met the now famous dancers Derek and Julianne Hough.
Their parents were going through a divorce when they were aged about eight and 11 and Derek asked Shirley if he could come and live with her in the UK.
He went to live with his coaches Shirley and Corky and Julianne joined him a few months later.
They only intended to stay for a year of training but Derek stayed for 10 and Julianne returned to the US after five years.
Derek and Julianne, along with Shirley’s son Mark, were trained by the couple at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts, learning everything from song to dance and gymnastics.
Mark and Julianne danced together and became the youngest couple to the win the British Open and the World Junior Championships.
All three went on to work as professional dancers on the American version of Dancing With The Stars with Julianne winning seasons 4 and 5, Mark won season 6 and Derek finished top on five separate occasions.
While Derek credits the couple for his success as a dancer, Julianne claimed she was “abused, mentally, physically, everything,” during her time in London.
Is Shirley returning to Strictly 2018 as head judge?
Shirley will return for a second series.
The BBC has backed Shirley after her clash with now-axed dancer Brendan Cole.
Fellow judges Bruno Tonioli, 62, Craig Revel Horwood, 53, and Darcey Bussell, 48, will also be back this year.
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Is Shirley Ballas married?
Shirley has already been touched by the Strictly love curse when her ex-husband Corky left her for former Strictly pro Kristina Rihanoff after he became her teacher in 2003.
She divorced her second husband in 2007 but his relationship with Kristina is said to have fizzled out the following year — her first season on Strictly.
Kristina, 39, is now with former England rugby star Ben Cohen, 39. They were partnered on the show in 2013 and have a daughter together.
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