Clare Balding takes Sue Barker’s job as the BBC’s face of Wimbledon… and she could be joined by recently-retired Roger Federer as the star analyst to replace deported Boris Becker
- Clare Balding has been confirmed as the face of the BBC’s Wimbledon coverage
- Balding is an experienced broadcaster who has covered seven Olympic Games
- Roger Federer may form part of the punditry line-up having been approached
The sizeable task of stepping into the shoes of Sue Barker at Wimbledon has been formally handed to her long-time colleague Clare Balding.
The BBC has confirmed the open secret that the 52-year-old will be the lead presenter this summer for the corporation’s coverage of its flagship event, replacing the popular Barker after she stepped down in 2022.
Balding will front a line-up which might yet include Roger Federer, who has been approached to do some analysis, and has twice been seen at the All England Club in recent months.
A versatile and experienced operator who has also covered seven Olympic games, Balding has been on duty at SW19 in various roles since 1995.
‘It’s a huge honour to be given this responsibility but I am very aware that no one person can fill Sue’s shoes,’ she said.
Clare Balding (left) has been made Sue Barker’s successor for the BBC’s Wimbledon coverage
Barker (right) dropped a major hint that Balding (left) would step into her shoes last November
‘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.’
The appointment is sure to have been given the informal approval of the All England Club, with whom the Beeb has an extremely intertwined relationship, having partnered with the tournament for 95 years.
She will be only the fifth main presenter in 50 years, following the lineage of David Coleman, Harry Carpenter, Des Lynam and Barker.
‘We are thrilled to announce Clare as our new lead presenter for Wimbledon,’ said Barbara Slater, Director of BBC Sport.
‘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.’
As happened last year Isa Guha – much better known for her work in cricket – will do the early presenting shift of the daily coverage before handing over to Balding.
The format is set to be different this year in that there will be a modified highlights package in the evening. This is partly because Wimbledon is now deliberately going on later to provide live action for the after-work audience, delaying the start of Centre Court until 1.30pm and having longer breaks between the bigger matches.
Sportsmail understands that instead of one set-piece programme showing the best of the day’s action later on, there is expected to be a more rolling version of highlights. This will be updated as the daily programme progresses and be more suitable to be accessed via digital platforms.
Balding (left) will head up the late coverage shift while Isa Guha (right) will host the early shift
BBC bosses are also trying to entice Roger Federer (left) into punditry to offer expert insight
With Boris Becker unable to enter the UK after his deportation, the BBC is also keen to add star quality to its roster and would love to have a legend like Federer involved.
He has been weighing up the extent to which he would like to feature, and has also been spoken to by the main American broadcaster at Wimbledon, ESPN. If he did get signed up it would likely be on a fairly sparing basis for both.
The BBC have struggled to sign up recent Grand Slam champions to supplement former great John McEnroe, with the likes of the articulate Lleyton Hewitt and Andy Roddick coming with a large price tag and hardly needing the money.
Meanwhile Emma Raducanu has reported more soreness in her wrist as her litany of physical problems continues. She is due to play Danka Kovinic in the opening round of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells on Thursday evening, but is not certain to take to the court. So far this year she has been restricted to just four matches.
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