Sue Barker has said she wanted to leave Wimbledon on her “own terms” rather than be “pushed out the door”, as she referenced her exit from A Question Of Sport after 24 years.
The former professional tennis player, 66, bid a tearful farewell to Wimbledon this year after 30 years of presenting coverage of the tennis event for the BBC.
It came two years after the broadcaster announced Paddy McGuinness would be taking over her role as host of A Question Of Sport, alongside the show’s team captains Matt Dawson and Phil Tufnell who were replaced by Sam Quek and Ugo Monye.
Barker told Lauren Laverne on Desert Island Discs: “Matt and Tuffers, we are like best mates, we had such a bond and we absolutely loved that programme.
“We were devastated when it came to an end but all good things must come to an end. It wasn’t our choice and we sort of knew it was coming.
“The way it was handled made me think about Wimbledon and the way I wanted to walk away on my own terms rather than be pushed out the door.
“To be taken into a room after 24 years and be told ‘We don’t want you anymore’, I just wish they handled the end a little better.”
In July, Barker announced her retirement from presenting Wimbledon coverage.
“I knew it was going to be sad, I love the job, I love Wimbledon, it is in my DNA,” Barker said.
“I love the people I work with even more but you just have to pick when the time is right to go and I just felt that I could walk out with my head held high having had 30 amazing years.”
Devon-born Barker chose the soundtrack to Wimbledon’s Parade Of Champions 2022 as her first desert island disc.
Struggling to hold back her tears, she told Laverne: “It was so wonderful and at the end of it, John McEnroe decided to say ‘well done’ to me for 30 years and the crowds reaction went on and on and for them to give me that ovation, I thought ‘job done’.
“It was really really emotional. I don’t know how I held it together out there.”
To mark Barker stepping down from her role, commentator and former Wimbledon champion McEnroe introduced a film of Barker’s highlights, featuring many famous faces.
Speaking about the tributes, which saw her idol Billie Jean King call her the greatest of all time, Barker said: “I never expected the tributes from my fellow players from my era and from the current era.
“It was surprising, embarrassing, emotional, it was everything.”
Talking about SW19 continuing to be a part of her life, she added: “I have already texted Heather Watson, wonderful girl, and I said I will be sitting courtside for your match next year.
“I am going to be screaming at the side telling her all sorts of things.”