Sue Barker: did Wimbledon presenter accidentally announce Clare Balding as her replacement? Comments explained

Sue Barker accepted an award at the BT Sport Action Women Awards where she seemingly confirmed Clare Balding as her Wimbledon replacement

It appears that Sue Barker may have accidentally revealed her Wimbledon replacement after accepting an award at the BT Sport Action Women Awards on Wednesday (16 November). The former professional tennis player and commentator, 66, bid a tearful farewell to Wimbledon earlier this year after 30 years of presenting coverage of the tennis event for the BBC.

This is everything you need to know.

What did Sue Barker say?

After receiving her lifetime achievement award at the ceremony for the Action Woman Awards, Barker sat down with her fellow sporting broadcaster Clare Balding on stage to chat about her achievements.

During their conversation, Barker said: “I just want to say, leaving Wimbledon, it’s incredibly… I’ve loved it all my life. I know I’m leaving it in the safest hands, it’s absolutely wonderful to leave it with Clare.”

Barker gestured towards Balding, indicating that the Clare she was leaving Wimbledon to was in fact Balding. During the exchange, Balding looked a bit anxious during Barker’s comments, and bit her lip in response to Barker’s apparent slip-up.

Presenter of the Centre Court Centenary Ceremony, BBC Presenter & Former Tennis Player, Sue Barker smiles on day seven of The Championships Wimbledon 2022 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 03, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

The conversation swiftly moved on after Barker’s comments, with a spokesperson for the BBC neither confirming or denying that Balding would be Barker’s replacement. Since Barker announced that she would be leaving Wimbledon earlier this year, Balding has been considered the front-runner to be her replacement.

Barker began broadcasting after she retired from professional tennis in 1984, and started covering Wimbledon in 1993. On June 9 2022 she announced that she would be stepping down from the BBC’s coverage of Wimbledon.

At the time she said: “What a wonderful time I’ve had working on some of the biggest sporting events around the world. I will miss it terribly but after 30 years I feel the time is right for me. I’ve worked with the best of the best.”

Who is Clare Balding?

Balding is an English broadcaster who currently presents for BBC Sport, Channel 4 and BT Sport, and is the president of the Rugby Football League.

Her broadcasting career began in 1994, when she became a trainee with BBC National Radio, working on programmes like 5 Live, Radio 1, Radio 2 and Radio 4. She made her TV presenting debut the following year and in December 1997 she became BBC’s lead horse racing presenter after Julian Wilson retired.

Over the course of her career, Balding has covered sporting events, including seven Olympic Games (in Sydney, Athens, Beijing, London, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo), four Paralympic Games, the Winter Olympic Games and the Commonwealth Games, to name a few. From 1995 to 2014, Balding worked on 5 Live’s coverage of Wimbledon, and from 2015 onwards she has presented BBC2’s Wimbledon Highlights programme.

Clare Balding conducts a pre-match piece to camera ahead of the Barclays FA Women’s Super League match between Arsenal Women and Manchester United Women at Meadow Park on March 19, 2021 in Borehamwood, England (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

She currently has her own sports talk show called The Clare Balding Show and has been joined by guests like Lewis Hamilton, Tom Daley, Mike Tyson, Judy Murray and Martina Navratilova.

Balding has received a number of awards for her work, including an OBE in the 2013 Birthday Honours for services to broadcasting and journalism, a special BAFTA for her work on the 2012 Olympics and Paralympis, Sports Presenter of the Year from the Royal Television Society and the Sports Journalists’ Association’s British Sports Journalism Award for Sports Broadcaster of the Year. Earlier this year, she was also appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2022 Birthday Honours for services to sport and charity.

Balding is married to Alice Arnold, a former fellow broadcaster and journalist, with the two having entered into a civil partnership in 2006 and then getting married in a private ceremony in 2015.