Sue Barker, an ever-present on the BBC from Wimbledon for 30 years having previously played there in the 1970s and 80s, has revealed that next month’s men’s final at SW19 will be her last on our screens.
The corporation offered Barker, 66, a three-year extension on her contract to stay on, but the presenter said the death of her mother, Betty, at 100 earlier this year contributed to the decision to hang up her mic.
“My mum was always so interested in my broadcasting career,” she told the Daily Mail, “and we would speak every evening. When something like that happens it does make you reassess life, which is another reason I think this is the right time.”
She added: “Basically I just feel the time is right. It has been my dream job and I have loved every minute of it working so many great colleagues who I am going to miss so much.
“When I started I never thought I would manage 30 years. I had actually made up my mind to leave in 2017 because the hours were becoming very long and quite challenging. That would have been 25 years and seemed a good time, but I am so glad I made the decision to stay on.
“I’m very happy to be leaving with no regrets and on my own terms while I am still on top of the job, it just feels like the right time to go and leave it to others.”
Tim Davie, the BBC director general said: “Sue Barker has been the face and voice of Wimbledon for three decades. Many of our viewers will not know of a summer in SW19 without her. She is a consummate professional, an outstanding presenter and a wonderful colleague, loved by current and former players, all of us at the BBC and audiences across the UK and beyond.
“Her contribution to tennis, the BBC, sports presenting and for blazing a trail for women in broadcasting cannot be overstated.”
The former world No 3, who won the 1976 French Open and reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 1977, started presenting the daily Wimbledon highlights alongside the late Harry Carpenter in 1993 before assuming the lead presenter’s role six years later with the departure of Des Lynam.
Barker’s relaxed style ideally suited the BBC’s midsummer sporting highlight but her broadcasting talents were not limited to tennis and she was the longest-serving host of the quiz show A Question of Sport, which she stopped presenting last year after almost a quarter of a century. She co-presented Sports Personality of the Year for 18 years until 2012 and she has broadcast from the Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, World Athletics Championships, the London Marathon, the Grand National and Royal Ascot during a long and illustrious career.
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