London | Clare Balding confirmed to lead Wimbledon coverage by the BBC

The BBC has announced that Clare Balding is to replace Sue Barker as its lead presenter of its coverage of The Championships at Wimbledon from this year.

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. Clare Balding

Last November, Barker appeared to accidentally reveal Balding as her successor during an interview at the Action Woman Awards.

“I know I’m leaving it in the safest hands, it’s absolutely wonderful to leave it with Clare” said Barker as she gestured towards Balding, who bit her lip.

Now the cat is formally out of the bag, and 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.”

The 52-year-old has presented the Today At Wimbledon highlights segment since 2015, and has been the favourite to take over from Barker, 66, since her retirement was announced in June last summer.

Balding follows in the footsteps of David Coleman, Harry Carpenter, Des Lynam and Barker in taking up the high-profile role.

“It’s a huge honour to be given this responsibility, but I am very aware that no one person can fill Sue’s shoes,” Balding said. “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.”

As last year, broadcaster and cricketer Isa Guha will welcome viewers to the BBC’s Wimbledon coverage  each day before the start of play, and Balding will then take over later in the day, covering play scheduled in the afternoon and evening.

Balding began her career as a trainee on BBC radio in 1994 and then worked for Radio 5 Live as a sports presenter before moving into other areas of factual presentation.

On TV, Balding has won awards for her presenting at both the Olympic and Paralympic games.

Balding also helped host the celebration of Barker’s career on the last day of Wimbledon last year, when she was joined by Tim Henman and Billie Jean King, as Barker bid a tearful farewell following 30 years of presenting the coverage for the BBC.

Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Pete Sampras, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and Rafael Nadal were among those paying tribute to the former player.

This year’s Championships will begin on Monday, 3 July, with the final day of play taking place on Sunday, 16 July.



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