Sue Barker, who has been ubiquitous on the BBC since 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 company offered Barker, 66, a three-year contract extension 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 microphone.
“My mother was always very interested in my broadcasting career,” she told the Daily Mail, “and we talked every night. When something like this happens, it makes you reassess life, which is another reason I think it’s a good time.
She added, “Basically, I just feel like the time is right. It was my dream job and I loved every minute of it working with so many great colleagues who I will miss so much.
“When I started, I never thought I would last 30 years. I actually decided to leave in 2017 because the hours were getting very long and quite taxing. It would have lasted 25 years and seemed like a good time, but I’m so glad I made the decision to stay.
“I’m very happy to leave with no regrets and on my own terms while I’m still on top of the job, it’s just the right time to leave and leave it to others.”
BBC Director General Tim Davie said: “Sue Barker has been the face and voice of Wimbledon for three decades. Many of our viewers won’t experience a summer in SW19 without her. She is an accomplished professional, an outstanding presenter and a wonderful colleague, loved by current and former players, by all of us at the BBC and by audiences across the UK and beyond.
“Her contribution to tennis, to the BBC, to sports presenting and to leading the way 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, began presenting daily Wimbledon highlights alongside the late Harry Carpenter in 1993 before assuming the main presenter role six years later with the departure of Des Lynam.
Barker’s laid-back style was a perfect fit for the BBC’s midsummer sporting highlight, but her broadcasting talents weren’t limited to tennis and she was the longest-serving host of quiz show A Question of Sport, which it 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 broadcast Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, World Championships in Athletics, London Marathon, Grand National and Royal Ascot over a long and illustrious career.