Months after Sue Barker appeared to have accidentally revealed Clare Balding as Wimbledon replacement whilst accepting an award at the BT Sport Action Women Awards in November last year, it has officially been been confirmed. Barker, a professional tennis player and commentator, 66, bid a tearful farewell to Wimbledon last year after three decades of presenting coverage of the tennis event for the BBC.
This is everything you need to know.
Is Clare Balding taking over as Wimbledon presenter?
It has been confirmed by the BBC that Balding will be taking over from Barker as lead presenter of the BBC’s Wimbledon coverage. The 52-year-old has presented the Today At Wimbledon highlights segment since 2015 and was a favourite to take over from Barker since her retirement was announced in June last year.
Balding follows in the footsteps of David Coleman, Harry Carpenter, Des Lynam and Barker in taking up the high-profile role.
She said: “It’s a huge honour to be given this responsibility but I am very aware that no one person can fill Sue’s shoes. This will always be a team effort and we’re lucky that the BBC line-up includes former professionals with huge insight as well as wonderful reporters and commentators.
“It’s my job to bring out the best in them and to help make our viewers feel they have a front row seat on the greatest sporting stage.”
Balding will start in the role this summer when Wimbledon returns to the All England Lawn Tennis And Croquet Club for its 2023 finals.
Barbara Slater, director of BBC Sport, said: “We are thrilled to announce Clare as our new lead presenter for Wimbledon.
“We know she will combine her passion and knowledge for the prestigious event with the trademark energy and professionalism she brings to both those working alongside her and watching at home, and we look forward to her taking up the new role this summer.”
Like last year, broadcaster and cricketer Isa Guha will welcome viewers to SW19 each day before start of play.
Balding will then take over coverage later in the day, covering play scheduled in the afternoon and evening.
Did Sue Barker announce the news early?
After receiving her lifetime achievement award at the ceremony for the Action Woman Awards in November last year, Barker sat down with 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.
The conversation swiftly moved on after Barker’s comments, with a spokesperson for the BBC at the time neither confirming or denying that Balding would be Barker’s replacement. After Barker announced that she would be leaving Wimbledon, Balding was 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 9 June 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.
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. The two entered into a civil partnership in 2006 and then got married in a private ceremony in 2015.