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Sue Barker asked Cliff Richard to stop ‘harping on’ about her

Wimbledon: BBC Breakfast presenters pay tribute to Sue Barker

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Sue Barker has lifted the lid on the truth behind her brief time dating Cliff Richard. The former professional tennis player met the We Don’t Talk Anymore singer after he got in touch with her. Although the pair had “a lot of fun”, Ms Barker has admitted she was warned against Mr Richard by both her parents and her friend. In an excerpt of her book, Calling the Shots: My Autobiography, which appeared on Mail Online, Ms Barker said her parents were “wary” of the 16-year age difference.

Ms Barker said: “I have to say being in Cliff’s company was a lot of fun. He got on well with my family and friends.

“They were all impressed by his behaviour with fans — he never flinched when he was approached in public, and was always happy to do a personalised autograph.

“My parents, however, were wary. They didn’t like the age difference of 16 years — I was 25, Cliff was 41 — and Dad warned me it could become a problem as we got older.”

After a few months they had seen less and less of each other, and then Mrs Barker said Mr Richard suddenly broke it off with her – by getting one of his friends to dump her over the phone.

The 66-year-old recalled: “I flew back to the States, upset and angry.

“During the past five months, we hadn’t been seeing a lot of each other as I was on a tennis tour and he was doing an album.

“So it certainly didn’t feel like we’d reached a point that merited either of us being dumped by the other.

“It felt to me like a friendship that had the potential to develop, rather than a significant romantic relationship, because we hadn’t taken it far — and I’m not just talking about sex.

“When my previous relationships had ended, we’d talked everything through, about why it wasn’t working or couldn’t work.

“This time, I was absolutely floored. It was so odd. And Cliff didn’t speak to me for weeks…”

Mrs Barker told how she had hoped that their romance would be ‘rekindled’, but they settled into a friendship.

However, the former Question of Sport presenter told how she became “upset” with the now 81-year-old.

Mrs Barker said Mr Richard would continually “harp on about her in interviews” – once claiming he “didn’t love her enough to propose”.

Later, Mrs Barker wed her husband Lance in 1988, but Mr Richard later gave an interview explaining “why I couldn’t marry Sue”.

Over the years, they have remained friends – although Mrs Barker has been “frustrated” by Mr Richard, asking him directly and via his agent to stop bringing her up in interviews.

Mrs Barker continued: “Lance and I still see him now and again. We went to his 50th birthday party, and joined his 60th birthday cruise.

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“We also went to support him at the Royal Albert Hall after that horrible BBC/police raid. There’s no animosity there.

“And it will come as no great surprise to him that I say all of the above, because I spoke to Cliff in person about this many times and I made a direct request to his agent and his manager to stop bringing up our time together in interviews. It has been frustrating.

“Yes, I really enjoyed our early friendship, but continuing to harp on about me simply isn’t fair, not just to me but to Lance, who has been constantly reminded why someone else wouldn’t marry his wife. It’s not respectful.”

This year’s Wimbledon was the former tennis champion’s last as she announced her retirement in June.

Sue Barker’s book, Calling the Shots: My Autobiography, is due to be released on September 29. 

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