Sue Barker, who has been a constant presence on the BBC from Wimbledon for the past 30 years after playing there in the 1970s and 1980s, has announced that the men’s final at SW19 next month will be her final appearance on our screens.
Barker, 66, was offered a three-year contract extension to carry on, but she declined due to the death of her mother, Betty, at the age of 100 earlier this year.
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After spending the last three decades performing the work she loves, her ideal job, Barker believes the time is right. She considered herself fortunate to have had this career for so long, as she never imagined she would make it to 30 years in the industry when she first started out.
Although Barker initially wanted to quit in 2017, primarily because the hours were getting too long and difficult, she opted to stay to see how far she could go, and she believes the moment has come for her to leave the stage “on my own terms” and, more significantly, to let others step forward.
BBC Director-General Tim Davie describes Sue Barker has been the face and voice of Wimbledon for three decades. In his words, “Many of our viewers won’t remember a summer in SW19 before she arrived. She is a consummate professional, a great presenter, and a wonderful colleague who is adored by current and former players, all of us at the BBC, and audiences all around the world.
“Her contribution to tennis, the BBC, sports presentation, and paving the way for female broadcasters cannot be emphasized.”
Barker, a former world No. 3 who won the 1976 French Open and reached the Wimbledon semi-finals in 1977, began delivering daily Wimbledon highlights alongside the late Harry Carpenter in 1993, before taking over as the principal presenter six years later when Des Lynam retired.
Barker’s laid-back demeanor was excellent for the BBC’s summertime sporting highlight, but her broadcasting abilities were not restricted to tennis; she was the longest-serving host of the quiz show A Question of Sport, which she hosted for almost a quarter-century before retiring last year. She co-hosted Sports Personality of the Year for 18 years until 2012, and during her long and famous career, she aired from the Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, World Athletics Championships, London Marathon, Grand National, and Royal Ascot.
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