Sue Barker says she would return to present Wimbledon: I didn’t want to leave

Sue Barker has said she would return to present the BBC’s Wimbledon coverage as she admitted she did not “want to leave” the role.

The former professional tennis player, 68, bid farewell to the tennis tournament in 2022 after 30 years of presenting coverage of the event for the broadcaster.

On Thursday, she made a surprise return to Centre Court to pay tribute to Sir Andy Murray as his career at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club drew to a close.

Wimbledon 2024 – Day Four – All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club
Andy Murray with Sue Barker following his gentlemen’s doubles match with Jamie Murray on day four of the 2024 Wimbledon Championships (Zac Goodwin/PA)

She received a roaring welcome and applause as she came out of retirement to interview an emotional Sir Andy, telling the crowd: “I couldn’t miss this. I was not going to miss this, I tell you.”

Speaking to the Mirror about the possibility of returning to present the BBC’s Wimbledon coverage, she said: “Yes, I would. I loved it.

“I loved the people and I didn’t want to leave. But you start hearing rumours of what is happening and (the BBC) obviously wants the next generation, and when you start hearing those rumours you think, ‘Maybe it’s time to get out while they still want me rather than being shoved out of the back door’.”

Her Wimbledon departure came two years after the BBC announced she would be stepping down as host of A Question Of Sport after she presented on the show for 24 years, with Paddy McGuinness later taking over the role.

She later criticised the way in which her departure from the quiz show was handled by the broadcaster in an interview with BBC Breakfast, suggesting the corporation had wanted her to say she was stepping back by her own choice, and not that she was being replaced as part of a “refresh”.

A group shot with Sue Barker in the centre
Sue Barker, who still has a WhatsApp group with team captains Phil Tufnell and Matt Dawson, criticised the way in which the BBC handled her departure from A Question of Sport (BBC/PA)

Reflecting on how this impacted her decision about Wimbledon, Barker told the Mirror: “The sacking from A Question Of Sport hurt so much that I thought, ‘I don’t want to go through that again’.

“I wanted to get out at the top. We are doing the A Question Of Sport theatre show next year. I have my WhatsApp group with Phil Tufnell and Matt Dawson. We’ll be friends for life.”

Alongside Barker’s exit, the show’s team captains Dawson and Tufnell were replaced by Sam Quek and Ugo Monye.

Last December, BBC announced it had benched the long-running quiz show due to “inflation and funding challenges”, ending a more than 50-year run on the national broadcaster.