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Sue Barker working for BBC Sport during her last Wimbledon in 2022© Dave Shopland/Shutterstock

Sue Barker's emotional Wimbledon exit: reason for shock departure after 30 years explained

Sue was the face of BBC Wimbledon for 30 years until 2022

Nicky Morris
TV and film writer
Updated: July 3, 2024
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Sue Barker was the face of the BBC's Wimbledon coverage for 30 years before her departure as main presenter in 2022. The broadcaster and former professional tennis player made her hosting debut on BBC Tennis back in 1993, and has since become synonymous with the south London-based tournament. 

After stepping down from her role, Sue bid a tearful farewell at the end of Wimbledon 2022. The 68-year-old made room for a new line-up of presenters, with Clare Balding, Qasa Alom and Isa Guha at the helm this year. But what prompted Sue's departure? Keep reading for all we know…

WATCH: Sue Barker tears up as she receives standing ovation at her last Wimbledon

Sue Barker's departure as BBC Wimbledon presenter explained 

Two years after she stepped away from BBC Wimbledon, Sue finally addressed her departure. In June, the broadcaster 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," she told The Telegraph. "And when you're hearing that they're having meetings about who's to replace you…"

Sue Barker is introduced to the crowd at centre court for the 100 year celebration; 3rd July 2022© Shaun Brooks/Action Plus/Shutterstock
Sue Barker hosted her final Wimbledon in 2022

The A Question of Sport host 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 Barker© Todd Antony/BBC
Sue fronted Wimbledon coverage for 30 years

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. 

"I thought, 'I wouldn't have liked it if Des Lynam had turned up in my first year'," she said. "I didn't do any interviews either, because I didn't want Isa [Guha] and Clare [Balding] to be picking up the newspapers plastered about how much I'm missing Wimbledon."

Sue's emotional last show

In July 2022, Sue fronted the BBC's Wimbledon coverage for the last time. As the programme drew to a close, the broadcaster was presented with a montage looking back at her best moments over the years. 

As she prepared for her final send-off, Sue was joined by her successor Clare and tennis legends Billie Jean King, Tim Henman, John McEnroe and Pat Cash, who paid tribute to the presenter as the crowd chanted her name. 

Sue Barker on Portrait Artist of the Year© Sky UK
Sue said she wanted to "go out doing the top job"

12-time Grand Slam singles champion Billie said: "She's an amazing example - if you want to be an amazing presenter, if you want to be anything in broadcasting - she's the GOAT [greatest of all time]."

Five-time Grand Slam finalist Pat added: "You make us feel comfortable and I'm sure you have been flustered but you're Novak Djokovic out there, you don't look flustered and it's a great quality. You make us feel loved, you really do."

Touched by their kind words, a teary Sue said: "It's been an absolute privilege. I've loved it. 30 amazing years."

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