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Sue Barker admits she 'failed miserably' at Wimbledon after private chat with tennis icon


Sue Barker joked that she ‘failed miserably’ at Wimbledon as she recalled a private chat with Venus Williams which left her surprised. The legendary broadcaster was the face of the BBC’s coverage for 30 years before stepping down from her presenting duties in 2022.

The 68-year-old reflected on her time covering Wimbledon during an appearance on BBC Radio 2 on Friday morning. Speaking to breakfast show host Zoe Ball, she recalled a conversation she had with Williams immediately after the American won her first SW19 title in 2000.

“I dressed up and had some very expensive shoes,” said Barker. “I walked onto Centre Court with my microphone and she’s coming over with the trophy. She looks me up and down and as I’m about to talk to her, she goes: “Great shoes, Sue.”

“I was like: ‘I’m done there, this fashionista has just won Wimbledon and the first thing she talks to me about is how great my shoes are’. I interviewed her four more times when she won the title and she never mentioned one thing I was wearing, so I failed miserably after that! But it was a big high in 2000.”

Barker left her presenting role in 2022 despite having the option to stay on for another three years, explaining at the time that she wanted to bow out at the top of her game. Reflecting on that decision, she added that she had no regrets about stepping down as she insisted the time was right to move on.

“It was a dream job and I miss it massively and I’d love to be back there doing it with the team,” said Barker. “But you’ve got to move on, you’ve got to know when the best time is to move on and now I’m enjoying it in a different way.”

Barker attended Wimbledon for the first time since leaving her BBC role last year and wrote in her new book that she found it ‘scary’, revealing that she thought she would lack a sense of purpose because she was not working in her usual media capacity.

“I was braced to discover what Wimbledon could be like to explore at large and at leisure,” she said. “It was an oddly scary prospect. I imagined I would feel nothing but excitement for 2023, my first tournament unburdened of responsibilities, footloose and fancy-free of any official involvement, but I arrived in utter trepidation.

“Wimbledon as a fan, this was something I had never trained for! I had no idea what to expect. My trepidation was the fear of the unknown. I was worried about how I would feel without the sense of purpose that came with arriving each day with a backpack bulging with media notes.”

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