Sue Barker broke down in tears after Wimbledon paid tribute to her committed service. The television star is retiring after the tournament having been the face of the BBC’S coverage for 30 years.
Barker’s long-standing TV partner John McEnroe lead the tribute during a parade of champions on Wimbledon’s Centre Court. He said: “Sue, one final word. On behalf of all the players, I just want to say that we’re going to be lost without you.
“After 30 years of covering this tournament magnificently, please give it up for Sue Barker.”
The Centre Court crowd rose as one to give the one-time French Open winner a standing ovation. In response, a visibly crying Barker thanked the organisers and joked that the American would be demoted to the lower courts.
“Thank you so much but this is about the tournament. All I can say is from now on John McEnroe is going to be commentating on Court 17 after that, going off script,” Barker said.”
“But thank you that really does mean the world to me.”
Barker hosted her first Wimbledon for the BBC in 1993 and has fronted the coverage ever since. She also previously held the presenter role at a Question of Sport but left last year, passing responsibility onto Paddy McGuinness.
It is not the first time that McEnroe has joked with the former British women’s No 1 about her impending departure from the TV coverage. The 63-year-old joked that he and other tennis television staple Tim Henman would need to quit as they would be unable to work without her.
“We all agreed we would only go as long as you can,” the seven-time major winner explained. “Now you have put the pressure on us! What is going to happen next? Henman are we going to have a tournament next year?”
British pundit Henman replied: “I am not sure, I think Sue said 30 years working with you [McEnroe] she’s not sure she could carry on. We need to debate it.”
Barker will hope to see a British tennis star take one of the singles titles to mark her final tournament. There remains hope with Cameron Norrie and Heather Watson both still in contention ahead of their fourth-round ties today.