Sue Barker admits ‘hard fight’ she had to overcome in women’s sports

Sue Barker holds back tears as she looks back on her career

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Sue Barker, 66, was recently honoured at The Women in Film and TV Awards as she was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award. The tennis player turned commentator spoke exclusively to Express.co.uk after receiving the gong, with Sue admitting she never knew the impact she had in women’s sports until her retirement.

It’s very very special to me! 

Sue Barker

The annual ceremony, hosted by comedian Katherine Ryan, celebrates the UK’s most talented women both in front of and behind the camera.

Before becoming a presenter, Sue played tennis professionally, achieving a Grand Slam singles title after winning the French Open in 1976.

Her career did not stop there as she became the face of the BBC’s coverage of Wimbledon for over 30 years.

Speaking to Express.co.uk about how she felt after receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award, Sue said: “I feel unbelievably honoured. This means a lot because it’s women and it’s been a bit of a hard fight for me coming through the 80s and 90s to come here.

“It’s very very special but you just sort of go out and do your job and you don’t really think about it.

“Then when I announced my retirement and I was offered this lifetime achievement award, I realised I must have been doing something right. It’s just all really taken me by surprise.

“I feel so honoured and this is something I will absolutely treasure. These sorts of things almost mean more than doing the job. It surprised me and clearly excited me.”

Her extensive broadcasting career, spanning three decades, has seen her present an array of sports including the Olympic Games, the Ice Skating World Championships, the London Marathon, Royal Ascot, and the Grand National.

Other notable credits include BBC’s A Question of Sport which she presented for 24 years alongside captains Matt Dawson and Phil Tufnell.

However, Sue and the two captains departed the show in 2020 when the BBC decided to rebrand the programme.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Sue suggested the corporation wanted her to say she was stepping back by her own choice, rather than being replaced.

She said: “They [BBC] wanted to refresh the programme and that’s absolutely fine.

“So we knew it was going to happen and it was just the way in which it happened and the way it was handled, and the way I think the BBC wanted me to say that I was walking away from it.

“And yet, I’d never walk away from a job I loved. I didn’t mind being replaced. Absolutely fine. That happens. But it was just the way it was handled.

“I think if we look back on it we could have handled it better. I think the BBC could have handled it better.”

In her book, Sue said she “point-blank refused” to put her name to a statement the BBC drew up for her claiming she decided to step aside.

Sue also emotionally bid farewell to Wimbledon after taking part in its coverage for over 30 years.

She later commented that she could have been in the job for another three years but felt it was her time to pass the baton onto someone else.

Speaking to Lorraine, she said: “I will miss it terribly, I wish I was 30 years younger and starting out.

“I loved the job and I didn’t want to give it up but I felt it was the right time and I could walk out with my head held high, which I was able to do. This was very much my choice.”

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