Pete Townshend wrote this song the day after he was knocked back by American actress Theresa Russell.
The guitarist told TheWho.net how he went to see The Wall with his friend Bill Minkin and Russell. (The actress was engaged to the film director Nic Roeg with whom he was planning to work on a new version of Lifehouse.) "I got drunk as usual, but I had taken my first line of cocaine that very evening before meeting her and decided I was in love," Townshend explained. "When I came to do the vocal on the following day [February 15, 1980] I was really out of my mind with frustration and grief because she didn't reciprocate."
A demo version titled "Teresa" was recorded and presented to The Who by Pete Townshend during the Face Dances sessions. It can be found on Townshend's compilation Scoop 3.
By the time The Who came to record the song for It's Hard, Townshend was married to Karen Astley and Russell had wed Nic Roeg. The guitarist was nervous about publicly naming his crush so he renamed it "Athena."
Roger Daltrey felt that concealing the subject of the song's true identity was a mistake. "Pete was talking to me about Nick Roeg's girlfriend and how he fancied her, and that song was written about her - but then it changed into 'She's a bomb'. I've got a psychological problem with it," he told the News of the World in 2010. "It's a great record; there's so much energy on that thing, but I still don't think there's a center to that song. The fact that he changed the title in that and didn't stick to what it was supposed to be lost its center to me."