Strictly Come Dancing star Karen Clifton has opened up about her "intense year" during an exclusive interview with HELLO! magazine. The professional dancer – who went home to New York to spend Christmas with her family – is now in a better place than ever since the start of the year, when she split up from her husband of three years Kevin Clifton. "Last year I was here in New York on my own, as Kevin spent Christmas with his family," she said, revealing the marriage was unravelling even then. "Things weren’t going that great so it was a bit of giving ourselves space, which we both needed. It was the first time I’d come home for Christmas on my own, and I was in a different mindset. Coming home again is very special, spending time with my family who helped me. I’ve had a pretty intense year and now I feel like a completely different person."
Karen Clifton on the New York public library steps
Karen flew to New York shortly after the Strictly Come Dancing final, which saw Kevin crowned the winner with his dance partner Stacey Dooley. Fans were moved as she rushed over to embrace Kevin – who had made it to the final of the show five times – but never before had he won. "You should have seen me off camera," Karen laughed. "Knowing how passionate Kevin is, I was just in bits and so happy for him." She added: "Kevin and I went through a lot this year, but the fact is we are supportive and stay positive and can be kind to one another, despite what people probably wanted. They most likely couldn’t believe that we would still be really good friends and wish the best for each other. I have a lot of love for Kevin and respect for him."
Karen in Bryant Park
During her trip, Karen was pictured with opera singer David Webbe, and says that she hasn't ruled out finding love again. "Having love in my life is a beautiful thing," she said. "There is definitely no ruling that out."
Karen talks to HELLO!
To read the full story, pick up the latest copy of HELLO!, out Monday 31 December
Special thanks to - HGU New York and Top of the Rocks.