John McEnroe pleads with Sue Barker after hearing ‘disturbing news’ from Wimbledon host
Wimbledon: Sue Barker introduces Novak Djokovic
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John McEnroe joked with Sue Barker as the iconic BBC Wimbledon presenter began the first day of her final tournament working for the broadcaster. After Novak Djokovic’s first-round win over Kwon Soon-woo, the American pundit turned to Barker and said: “I have heard some very disturbing news, is it possibly true that this is your last Wimbledon? Are you kidding you are an icon here!” to which Barker and Tim Henman found amusing and laughed at McEnroe’s joke.
“We all agreed we would only go as long as you can,” McEnroe added. “Now you have put the pressure on us! What is going to happen next? Henman are we going to have a tournament next year?”
British pundit Henman replied: “I am not sure, I think Sue said 30 years working with you [McEnroe] she’s not sure she could carry on. We need to debate it.”
Barker, 66, added: “You two are probably saying it’s 29 years too late that I am going!” to which both pundits with Barker disagreed and insisted they needed to enjoy this tournament. “No of course not, and we have got to savour every last day here this is unbelievable. No really, this is incredible, forget about these matches let’s talk about you, why have you decided to do this?”
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Barker revealed why she was quitting as a presenter and explained her plans for post-broadcasting life to McEnroe and Henman. “So I can sit up there and watch a bit of tennis and enjoy a bit of it and let someone else do the hard work,” she explained.
After McEnroe joked with Barker that she would miss having the producers in her ear during matches, Barker joked that she didn’t listen to them and questioned whether the American pundit did, to which he replied he didn’t either. “That’s what I learned from you,” he admitted. “Thank you!”
The SW19 legend is calling time on her broadcasting days after this year’s tournament next month following 30 years on our screens. She has presented several iconic Wimbledon moments, including when Andy Murray won for the first time in 2013 and the Brit has recently explained his relationship with Barker. “Away from the camera, I always loved chatting to Sue,” Murray said. “It was like chatting to my mum, or a relative almost. She has that warmth to her.
“Usually you do interviews on the TV and it doesn’t always feel the most natural to me. But with her, a lot of the time I almost felt like she was able to make you forget about that. When I would go to the studio at Wimbledon, she made it feel more relaxed. It was like you’re chatting to someone in the living room or whatever. That was what I really loved about her. She also seems like a genuinely nice person.
“I’ve watched her on the TV growing up, whether that was Wimbledon or a Question of Sport. She was obviously an amazing tennis player but a lot of people maybe don’t realise that about her because she has become so good at what she does now.”
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