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Sue Barker

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Country (sports)
Great Britain

Career record

1.66 m

Turned pro

Sue Barker

Lance Tankard (m. 1988)


Television presenter

Highest ranking

Prize money
US$ 878,701

Grand slams won (singles)

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19 April 1956 (age 68) Paignton, Devon, England (

Right-handed (1-handed backhand)

TV shows
A Question of Sport, Wimbledon 2006

Similar People
Virginia Wade, Chris Evert, Tracy Austin, Tim Henman, John McEnroe

Hacker Time - Hacker Interviews Sue Barker

Susan Barker, OBE (born 19 April 1956 in Paignton, Devon) is an English television presenter and former professional tennis player. During her tennis career, she won eleven WTA Tour singles titles, including one Grand Slam singles title at the 1976 French Open. She reached a career-high singles ranking of World No. 3. She is now one of the main sports presenters at the BBC.


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Wimbledon 2015 sue barker speaks to hacker the dog cbbc

Early life

Sue Barker I39m downsizing commitments39 Sue Barker bids farewell to

She was born and raised in Paignton, Devon. Educated at a convent school, aged 10 in 1966 she was picked out as the second of two girls who were to receive tennis coaching from Arthur Roberts, who had coached Angela Mortimer to three Grand Slam titles. Roberts continued her coaching beyond the selection prize commitment, charging only £1/session to allow her development to continue. Barker's forehand was her strongest and most admired weapon throughout her career, with Roberts describing it as "especially potent". Advised as a teenager by a visiting LTA coach to change her forehand, Roberts told her not to and he later resigned from the LTA Coaches Association in protest at the advice. Roberts later entered Barker into tournaments on the continent, providing her with a one-way ticket there and telling her to "earn your ticket home". Roberts remained Barker's mentor but not friend throughout her career.

Tennis career

Sue Barker Quotes by Sue Barker Like Success

Aged 16, and ranked 21st in the WTA rankings, Barker was advised by Roberts to relocate to the United States for her development. Subsequently signed by Mark McCormack's International Management Group (IMG) on her 17th birthday, she relocated that summer to an IMG provided town house in Newport Beach, California, where her neighbours included the newly retired Rod Laver, and was coached at the John Wayne Tennis Club.

Sue Barker Sue Barker wins BBC contract to cover 2012 London Olympics

The following year Barker won her first top-level singles title, and three additional titles in 1975. Barker reached her first Grand Slam semi-final in 1975 at the Australian Open. She won the German Open in 1976, beating Renáta Tomanová of Czechoslovakia in the final 6–3, 6–1.

Later in 1976, Barker had the biggest victory of her career by winning the French Open at the age of 20, again defeating Tomanová in the final. Barker's toughest game en route to the final in Paris was her quarter-final match against Regina Maršíková, when Barker came back from a set down and won a gruelling final set 8–6. After her French Open victory against Tomanová, Barker felt that it would be the first of a number of Grand Slam titles that she would win, but she would not reach another Grand Slam final in her career.

In 1977, Barker won two singles titles in San Francisco (despite being played at Palo Alto) and Dallas. She beat Martina Navratilova to reach the Virginia Slims Tour Championships final, where she lost in three sets to Chris Evert. Barker reached the Australian Open semi-final for the second time in 1977 and also reached the Wimbledon semi-final that year. She looked set to meet Virginia Wade in the Wimbledon final in 1977, but unexpectedly lost her semi-final against Betty Stöve of the Netherlands, which denied her the opportunity of playing against Wade in an all-British final.

Years later, Barker said that losing to Stöve was the biggest disappointment of her career and admitted that she was so upset at losing in the 1977 Wimbledon semi-final that she could not bear to watch the final, which was won by Wade.

After an injury-plagued 1978 during which her ranking dropped to World No. 24, she won three singles titles and reached three other finals in 1979. She was named the tour's "Comeback Player of the Year" by her fellow professionals. Barker reached one final in 1980 and won the last singles title of her career at the Brighton International in 1981, finishing the year ranked World No. 16. She won her last doubles title in 1982 at Cincinnati, and played her last professional match in 1984.

In all, Barker won 11 singles titles and 12 doubles titles, posting wins over Evert, Navratilova, Billie Jean King, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Tracy Austin, Virginia Wade, Maria Bueno, Rosemary Casals, Andrea Jaeger and Pam Shriver. In 2004, recalling her French Open win of 1976, Barker said: "I'm still incredibly proud of what I achieved."


  • " * "The player received a Bye in the first round.
  • Doubles

  • " * "The player received a Bye in the first round.
  • " ^ "The player lost via walkover. Match loss not counted in win-loss ratios.
  • Mixed

  • " * "The player received a Bye in the first round.
  • " ^ "The player lost via walkover. Match loss not counted in win-loss ratios.
  • Broadcasting career

    Upon retiring from tennis Barker became a commentator and sports reporter for Australia's Channel 7 in 1985 before going on to anchor tennis coverage for British Sky Broadcasting in 1990. In 1993, Barker joined the Wimbledon coverage on the BBC and now anchors the two-week-long broadcast for the network.

    Barker has branched out since joining the BBC, becoming one of their chief sports presenters. She is currently the presenter of the sports quiz show A Question of Sport and was a host of the annual BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards ceremony from 1994 to 2012, stepping down from the role in 2013.

    Barker has hosted BBC Sport's coverage of the Australian Open, the French Open, Queens Club Championships, Eastbourne, the Davis Cup, the ATP World Tour Finals and Wimbledon.

    Other sporting events she has hosted have included the Grand National (1996–2006), the Derby (2001–2007), Racing at Ascot and Longchamp (1995–1999), Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury, the Great North Run, World Athletics Championships and European Athletics Championships (1999–2009), BBC Sports Personality of the Year (1994–2012), Commonwealth Games (1994–2010) and Winter Olympics (1994–2010).

    In June 1999, she co-presented coverage of HRH Prince Edward's wedding to Sophie Rhys-Jones at Windsor alongside Michael Buerk. Barker had introduced Rhys-Jones to Queen Elizabeth II's youngest son at a charity function a few years earlier.

    In 2008, Barker and the BBC extended her contract to cover the London 2012 Summer Olympics. It is estimated to be worth £375,000 a year. In 2014, she stepped away from the cameras, but worked as a BBC commentator at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

    In July 2012, the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK received over 40 complaints for a Go Compare advert that Barker starred in when she was featured firing a large rocket launcher at opera singer Gio Compario (Wynne Evans) in an attempt to kill off the face of the brand. A spokesperson for the ASA said: "Some people think it offensive especially at a time when children are watching. Others think it inappropriate when our security forces are coming under fire on a daily basis. As with all complaints, we are looking into the matter before deciding if we launch a full investigation."

    Already Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), Barker was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to broadcasting and charity.

    Personal life

    In 1978, Barker broke off an engagement with Australian tennis player Syd Ball. In an interview the following year, she said: "I realised that Syd wasn't the answer. Underneath, I wasn't happy and I certainly wasn't ready for marriage. I wasn't fair to him or myself." After her engagement was broken off, she had a brief relationship with another Australian, golfer Greg Norman.

    In 1982, Barker met singer Cliff Richard. Their romance attracted considerable media attention after Richard flew to Denmark to watch her play in a tennis match and they were later photographed cuddling and holding hands at Wimbledon. Richard said in 2008 that he had come close to asking her to marry him. He said: "I seriously contemplated asking her to marry me, but in the end I realised that I didn't love her quite enough to commit the rest of my life to her."

    In 1986, after Barker's romance with Richard had ended and she began a brief relationship with tennis player Stephen Shaw, Richard said that he was still a friend of Barker. He said: "We have a mutual respect for each other and that means a lot to me."

    In 1988, Richard said of his former romance with Barker: "We were closer than just friends. She's the only person with whom I've had that sort of relationship." He said that one of the things which made up his mind not to marry her was when she got upset because he hadn't told her who he was seeing that day. Richard said: "I suddenly realised that in a marriage you don't live for yourself."

    In 1988, Barker married landscape gardener and former policeman Lance Tankard. They live in the Cotswolds village of Stanton, Gloucestershire after moving from a mansion on a 26-acre estate in Godalming, Surrey. The couple own several rottweilers.

    In 1980, Barker was temporarily blinded in her right eye after a large dog in Spain jumped up and bit her. She lost the sight in her eye for five hours and feared that the dog attack would force her to stop playing tennis, which she said "broke her heart".

    In an interview in 1999, Barker said that during her tennis career she was approached by a lesbian tennis player in the locker room and touched "in a way that didn't feel right". Barker refused to name the female tennis player involved.


    Sue Barker Wikipedia

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