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Iconic tennis presenter Sue Barker was surprised by a memento on live television as she hosted the BBC’s coverage of Queen’s. However, the gift was nothing to do with her esteemed career in broadcasting, but more so her playing days as the former French Open champion was honoured for representing Great Britain.
Barker won 15 WTA Tour singles titles, including her sole Grand Slam singles title in Roland Garros in 1976. She reached a career-high singles ranking of world No 3, but as well as her individual achievements, played for GB in nine different Federation Cup campaigns.
The peak as a team member came in 1979, when Barker won all seven matches en route to the final, where GB were beaten by the USA. After retirement, she then became the face of Wimbledon, but announced this year she would be stepping down from her BBC role at SW19 after three decades of involvement.
But whilst working live at Queen’s on Thursday, she was discussing the action with pundit John Lloyd and LTA chief Scott Lloyd, who was a guest in the studio. Just as he was about to leave though, he decided to make an impromptu presentation.
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Before departing, Lloyd said to Barker: “Just before I go, if I can, we’ve just last year relaunched what we call the Colour Holders Programme to celebrate 125 years of GB representation. And each player that has ever played for Great Britain gets their own personal number and yours is 165.”
Comically, the host replied with “Why am I that low?!” before Lloyd clarified: “It’s all chronological,” pointing out that namesake John was at 159: “He beat me to it – well he’s older than me! Scott that is so nice!”
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She continued to express her delight, adding: “Isn’t that lovely? Isn’t that fabulous? Thank you very much. I’m going to wear that. That’s really kind, thank you very much Scott.”
Barker also famously presented A Question of Sport for 24 years, before the BBC opted to remove her from the role in September 2020. She was replaced by Paddy McGuinness, while current team captain Ugo Monye has since admitted the new-look groups have encountered a backlash to the revamp.
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