Life is about to change for Kristina Rihanoff. The Strictly Come Dancing star who has revealed she is three months pregnant, has exclusively announced to HELLO! that she is quitting the show that made her a household name. Her big decision has been followed by the happy news that she is expecting her first child.
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"It's a bittersweet situation," she says of leaving the show. "I was on Strictly for eight years and I always loved the dancing side of it, but I feel relieved because I wasn't happy towards the end. I'm also sad because I'm going to miss everyone. I will always be grateful for the fantastic opportunity that Strictly gave me to be part of such a brilliant show."
Kristina Rihanoff has revealed she will not return to Strictly Come Dancing next year
Kristina had already made up her mind to leave Strictly ahead of the surprise announcement that she is expecting a baby with her boyfriend, her former Strictly Come Dancing partner, Ben Cohen.
She is thrilled by the prospect of becoming a mum. "It was a surprise but I am obviously delighted," she says. "My mother was with me over Christmas and when we found out she put her arms around me and she cried with joy. It is her lifelong dream for me to have a child and it was lovely to see her so happy."
Of her decision to bid farewell to the BBC show, she tells HELLO!, "Strictly takes a toll on your life," as she reveals that she almost quit the show last year and signed her contract two weeks later than the other dancers. "It's very intense and it's worth it if you feel like you are fulfilling yourself as an artist… those moments when you feel you have done great choreography to a great song and a good concept. But I feel some of that creativity was being taken out of my hands."
But she says of Strictly, "It is the most exciting thing I have ever done," and she talks of how much she will miss her fellow dancers. "We are a tight bunch. It's not the glamour or the costumes I will miss, but those guys.
"I think I am on a new path," she adds, "learning about myself, how to relax and how to enjoy a more simple and balanced life. I can't say I'm not nervous. But I'm very excited about the future."