As Wimbledon kicks off this week, Sue Barker reveals her favourite moments from the tennis tournament
from monday / BBC1 & BBC2
The sound of racquet against ball will be the soundtrack of our office as we keep an eye on Andy Murray’s progress. Sue Barker heads the team at the BBC for its 90th year of coverage.
Sue Barker reached the semi-final of Wimbledon in 1977, the year the ladies singles title was famously won by fellow
British star Virginia Wade.
Sadly Sue, 61, never emulated Virginia’s Wimbledon victory, but she did go on to become a hugely popular tennis presenter, joining the BBC’S Wimbledon team in
1993 before becoming its main host in 2000, a role she continues as the tournament returns this week.
The presenter can also be seen in the documentary Our Wimbledon, which celebrates 90 years of BBC broadcasting from the tournament, which started with radio in 1927 and on television 10 years later.
‘Wimbledon is a special place for me and I feel privileged to have been a part of it over the years,’ says Sue. ‘I never dreamed when I was competing there that I’d one day be interviewing the winners on Centre Court. I still get goosebumps when I walk in at the start of a tournament.’
In the documentary, Sue travels around the world to catch up with legends of the men’s game, including Bjorn Borg, John Mcenroe, and current champion Andy Murray. She’ll also be reminiscing with the women she played against in the 1970s, including Virginia Wade, Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King and Chris Evert, who she meets at her tennis academy in Florida.
‘When I was playing, I’d often have dinner with Chris, Martina and the others,’ Sue says.
‘Chris was coached by her dad but he wasn’t at every tournament with her, Martina was on her own and I was usually on my own, so we’d all socialise. Now, the players are surrounded by parents, coaches, agents, practice partners and so on, it’s so different.’
Here Sue shares her favourite Wimbledon moments…
dream debut 1976
I’d grown up with Wimbledon, so to finally play on Centre Court really was a dream come true. I played the great Maria Bueno from Brazil, who had won the title three times years before and was making a comeback. Walking onto that famous court and playing such an idol was terrifying, and the first set, which I lost 6-2, seemed to go by in a haze. But I managed to relax a bit and eventually won to cap a very special day.
Titan tie-break 1980
No Wimbledon highlights list could be complete without the epic fourth-set tie-break between Bjorn Borg and John Mcenroe. It was 20 minutes of unbelievable drama as Mcenroe saved a clutch of match points before eventually taking the tie-break 18-16. It must have been such a blow to lose that, but Borg held his composure to take the final set and clinch his fifth title. It’s no wonder that tie-break is one of the most famous sporting moments ever.
andy Murray’s historic first win 2013
Nothing else comes close to the afternoon when Andy Murray ended that 77-year drought for British male players. I’d worked on a documentary with Andy and his team before that year’s Wimbledon, and knew how much it meant to him, especially after losing in the final the previous year. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so nervous watching someone serve out a tennis match.
super steffi 1988
The 1988 final saw a passing of the Wimbledon torch from Martina Navratilova to Steffi Graf. Martina was going for a seventh consecutive title while the young German, who would go on to win seven herself, was looking for her first victory. Steffi was still a teenager, but was already the world No 1 and had a booming forehand. She won in three sets and went on to win a unique Golden Slam that year, all four majors and the Olympics.
ruthless roger 2009
Who can forget Roger Federer’s final against Rafael Nadal in 2008? The year after that was also truly memorable when he bounced back from that defeat to see off Andy Roddick 16-14 in the final set. It was a win that saw him reach 15 Grand Slam titles and move past Pete Sampras to become the most successful male player in history.
I still get goosebumps walking into Wimbledon
Sue’s covering Wimbledon…
past and present