The worst-kept secret in broadcasting used to be made professional on Thursday with affirmation that Claire Balding will step into Sue Barker’s venerable sneakers because the lead presenter of the BBC’s Wimbledon protection this summer time.
The common Balding, whose versatility and ultimate unflappability has been observed throughout seven Olympic Games, a number of Sports Personality of the Year awards, Crufts and the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, described her new function as a “huge honour”.
However, the scoop that one nationwide treasure could be changing every other used to be now not totally sudden. In truth it used to be Barker herself who let the cat out of the bag ultimate November, telling an awards tournament that the function she had held for 22 years used to be “in the safest hands – it’s absolutely wonderful to leave it with Clare”, as she picked up an entire life success from her successor.
The 52-year-old Balding, who has been on the company since 1995, turns into simplest the 5th major presenter of the company’s Wimbledon protection in 50 years, following David Coleman, Harry Carpenter, Des Lynam and Barker.
“It’s a huge honor to be given this responsibility but I am very aware that no one person can fill Sue’s shoes,” she mentioned. “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 grew up in a racing family along with her father, Ian, sending out the 1971 Derby winner Mill Reef earlier than coaching horses for the Queen. She used to be a skilled novice flat jockey herself learning English at Cambridge University and becoming a member of the BBC as a trainee.
While on the company she temporarily moved up the ranks as presenter, profitable acclaim specifically for her London Olympic and Paralympic protection, and quite a few awards alongside the way in which. Last 12 months she used to be additionally appointed CBE for services and products to game and charity and till December she used to be the president of the Rugby Football League.
Her appointment used to be additionally hailed through Barbara Slater, director of BBC Sport, who mentioned she used to be “thrilled” on the information. “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,” she added. .
The determination would have additionally include the casual blessing of the All England Club, with whom the company has had a particularly shut courting spanning over 95 years – courting again to radio statement from Captain Henry Blythe Thornhill (Teddy) Wakelam in 1927. adopted 10 years’ later, and the partnership is now the longest in sports activities broadcasting historical past. The present contract, value an estimated £60m a 12 months, runs till 2027.
As with the Championships ultimate 12 months, Isa Guha will provide the BBC’s protection previous within the day earlier than Balding takes over the protection for play scheduled within the afternoon and into the night time.
However, Barker will probably be a difficult act to practice. Such used to be her recognition that on her ultimate day presenting ultimate summer time, fanatics at Wimbledon sang “We love you Sue, we do,” as a transferring tribute used to be paid to her.
The 66-year-old used to be observed in tears as avid gamers together with Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Billie Jean King referred to as her “simply the best” after she walked off Center Court for the ultimate time. Meanwhile, former international No 1 Chris Evert described Barker as an “outspoken, articulate, wonderfully knowledgeable tennis presenter”.
Barbara Slater, director of BBC Sport, commented: “We are overjoyed to announce Clare as our new lead presenter for Wimbledon. We know she is going to mix her interest and information for the distinguished tournament with the trademark power and professionalism she brings to each the ones operating along her and observing at house, and we look ahead to her taking on the brand new function this summer time.”