Sue Barker, a 30-year presence at the BBC from Wimbledon having previously played there in the 1970s and 80s, has announced that next month’s men’s final at SW19 will be her last on our screens.
The company offered 66-year-old Barker a three-year contract extension, but the presenter said the death of her mother Betty at the age of 100 earlier this year contributed to the decision to hang up her microphone.
“My mother was always so interested in my broadcasting career,” she told the Daily Mail, “and we spoke every night. When something like that happens you have to re-evaluate life, which is another reason why I think this is the right time.”
She added: “Basically, I just feel like the time is right. It was my dream job and I loved every minute working with so many great colleagues who I will miss so much.
“When I started, I never thought I’d make it 30 years. Actually, I had planned to leave in 2017 because the working hours were very long and quite challenging. That would have been 25 years and seemed like a good time but I’m so glad I made the decision to stay.
“I’m very happy to be leaving with no regrets and on my own terms while still being at the top of the job. It just feels like the right time to go and let others do it.”
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 know a summer in SW19 without them. She is a consummate professional, a superb 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 broadcasting and to paving the way for women in broadcasting cannot be overstated.”
The former world No. 3, who won the French Open in 1976 and reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 1977, began presenting daily Wimbledon highlights alongside the late Harry Carpenter in 1993 before ending six years later with the departure of Des die Lynam took on the role of the main presenter.
Barker’s relaxed style was ideal for the BBC’s midsummer sport highlight, but her broadcasting talents were not limited to tennis and she was the longest-serving presenter of the quiz show A Question of Sport, which she stopped hosting last year after almost a quarter of a century. She co-hosted Sports Personality of the Year for 18 years up until 2012 and has broadcast from the Olympics, Commonwealth Games, World Athletics Championships, London Marathon, Grand National and Royal Ascot during her long and illustrious career.