Why Did Sue Barker Leave Wimbledon After Thirty Years?
Wimbledon in 2023 will not be the same for viewers on the BBC, as long-time presenter Sue Barker has left the gig in SW19. Why has Barker decided to step away from hosting duties?
The nets have been packed away, the grass will be given a rest, and the umpires and crowd given time to recover from the Nick Kyrgios show, and it will all come back again next June. Except for one thing, one piece of the Wimbledon furniture will be missing for The Championships, 2023 at the All-England Club: Sue Barker. The long-time presenter has stepped down from her hosting duties with the BBC, meaning her last match as host was the Men’s singles final between Kyrgios and Novak Djokovic.
But why has Sue Barker left Wimbledon? Was it a case of her calling time or has she been forced out like with A Question of Sport?
Sue Barker Leaving Wimbledon
Essentially, Sue Barker has left Wimbledon because she has decided to.
The 1976 French Open winner first appeared as a broadcaster for the BBC in SW19 back in 1993 – just as Pete Sampras began his dominance of the Men’s singles – winning seven of the next eight.
She said she felt the time “was right” having previously decided to quit in 2017 after 25 years but stayed on for another five years. Barker believes she is still “on top of the job,” but that it is the “right time to go on her own terms.” It is rather different from her time ending on A Question of Sport when the BBC decided to let her and team captains Phil Tufnell and Matt Dawson go – Barker after 23 years in the host’s seat.
A Tribute to Sue Barker
Sue Barker had already made her decision to leave Wimbledon public before The Championships in 2022, and so celebrations about her were common during the tournament.
On the middle Sunday, Barker, and co-presenter three-time champion John McEnroe welcomed back various Wimbledon singles champions including Margaret Court, Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg, and Billie Jean King to Center Court to celebrate 100 years.
McEnroe led the crowd in a standing ovation for Barker – which the former world number three was visibly moved by.
After the Djokovic Kyrgios final, Tim Henman introduced a montage of Barker’s finest Wimbledon moments, including comments by the likes of Roger Federer, Martina Navratilova, Virginia Wade, Chris Evert, and Andy Murray.
King also joined Barker, Henman, McEnroe, and Pat Cash for a few words to pay tribute to Barker as she left Wimbledon as a BBC presenter for the last time.
Wimbledon themselves also provided a fantastic tribute to the former world number three and Roland-Garros champions with a lengthy statement entitled ‘Farewell “Auntie Sue”’ – a nickname affectionately handed to her by Henman.
The championships noted that Barker’s farewell was a “grand reversing of tables” in that it was her “turn to acknowledge the applause and be moved to tears” as so many champions have done on the court down through the years of her presenting career. They went even further than that by stating that “it is almost inconceivable to think that this will be the last time she performs the role that’s taken so many players to the hearts of fans”.
“Her retirement marks an end of an era, which will be sharply felt. An entire generation and more have only known Wimbledon through Sue Barker’s warm and welcoming company,” the farewell letter continued.