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Why isn’t Sue Barker presenting Wimbledon on the BBC this year?

Sue Barker anchored Wimbledon coverage for the BBC from 2000 until 2022.
Sue Barker began anchoring the BBC’s Wimbledon coverage in 2000 (Picture: PA)

There are many things that have become synonymous with Wimbledon across the course of the prestigious tennis tournament’s history.

Strawberries and cream, Henman Hill, Pimm’s, Roger Federer… and of course Sue Barker.

However, to the disappointment of the Great British tennis audience, Barker will not be presenting TV coverage of the Championships for the BBC this year, which will instead be fronted by Clare Balding, Qasa Alom and Isa Guha.

But why exactly is Barker absent from our screens in SW19 for Wimbledon 2024?

Here is everything you need to know.

Why isn’t Sue Barker presenting Wimbledon?

Barker stepped down from her role as the main presenter of the BBC’s Wimbledon coverage two years ago.

Sue Barker at Wimbledon
Barker is a Wimbledon legend in her own right (Picture: Simon Bruty/Anychance/Getty Images)

The veteran broadcaster was first part of the Wimbledon team in 1993 and anchored the coverage since 2000.

Barker, who was the first female to lead the BBC output at the tournament, had been at the BBC for thirty years with other gigs including the Olympics, Sports Personality of the Year and A Question of Sport.

Why did Sue Barker leave Wimbledon?

Sue Barker in the royal box on day six of the 2023 Wimbledon Championships.
Viewers will have to get used to Wimbledon without the presenter (Picture: PA)

When the news broke in 2022, Barker told the BBC she was grateful for her career in TV but it was time to move on.

Barker said: ‘What a wonderful time I’ve had working on some of the biggest sporting events around the world.

‘I will miss it terribly but after 30 years I feel the time is right for me. I’ve worked with the best of the best.’

Barker added to the Daily Mail: ‘Basically I just feel the time is right. It has been my dream job and I have loved every minute of it, working with 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.’

Barker also revealed the death of her mother aged 100 had played a role in her decision to quit.

She added: ‘My mum was always so interested in my broadcasting career and we would speak every evening.

She wrapped up presenting at the tennis tournament two years ago.
She wrapped up presenting at the tennis tournament two years ago (Picture: Dave Shopland/ Rex/ Shutterstock)

‘When something like that happens it does make you reassess life, which is another reason I think this is the right time.’

What has Sue Barker said about her Wimbledon exit?

However speaking to The Telegraph last month, Barker revealed that she decided to leave after discovering that meetings were held at the BBC discussing her replacement. 

‘I just sensed that, as you get older, you’ve got not many years left. And when you’re hearing that they’re having meetings about who’s to replace you,’ she said.

The presenter explained that despite being offered a contract extension, she wanted to ‘go out doing the top job’.

‘Although they offered me a contract, I suddenly thought over those three years [on the contract extension], will it be a case of, ‘We’ll just diminish Sue’s role a little so that the transition is slightly easier.’ And I didn’t want to be diminished,” she said. I’d rather go out doing the top job.’

Sue added that while her departure may have come “a couple of years” before she was ready, on reflection, it was “absolutely the right time”.

Last year, Sue chose to “stay away” from Wimbledon to avoid stealing the limelight from the new presenters. 

When stepping down, Barker said it felt like 'the time is right'.
The 1976 French Open champion gave more details about her exit recently (Picture: Simon Bruty/ Anychance/ Getty Images)

Who is replacing Barker?

Clare Balding has replaced Barker as the main presenter at Wimbledon.

Balding first worked on the BBC production in 1995 and was the long-term host of the BBC’s evening highlights show, Today at Wimbledon.

Former England cricketer Isa Guha will continue to present the morning’s action before handing over to Balding in the afternoon.

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