Barker in 2008
|Country (sports)||Great Britain|
|Residence||Stanton, Gloucestershire, England|
|Born||19 April 1956|
Paignton, Devon, England
|Height||5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)|
|Plays||Right-handed (1-handed backhand)|
|Prize money||US$ 878,701|
|Highest ranking||No. 3 (20 March 1977)|
|Grand Slam Singles results|
|Australian Open||SF (1975, 1977 - Dec)|
|French Open||W (1976)|
|US Open||4R (1976)|
|Tour Finals||F (1977)|
|Last updated on: 15 August 2012.|
Susan Barker, (born 19 April 1956) is an English television presenter and former professional tennis player. During her tennis career, she won fifteen WTA Tour singles titles, including one Grand Slam singles title at the 1976 French Open. She reached a career-high singles ranking of World No. 3. She is now one of the main sports presenters at the BBC, most notably fronting the corporation's coverage of Wimbledon and A Question of Sport.
Barker was born and raised in Paignton, Devon and educated at a convent school. When aged 10, in 1966 she was picked out as the second of two girls who were to receive tennis coaching from Arthur Roberts, who had coached Angela Mortimer to three Grand Slam titles. Roberts continued her coaching beyond the selection prize commitment, charging only £1/session to allow her development to continue. Barker's forehand was her strongest and most admired weapon throughout her career, with Roberts describing it as "especially potent". Advised as a teenager by a visiting LTA coach to change her forehand, Roberts told her not to and he later resigned from the LTA Coaches Association in protest at the advice. Roberts later entered Barker into tournaments on the continent, providing her with a one-way ticket there and telling her to "earn your ticket home". Roberts remained Barker's mentor throughout her career.
Aged 16, and ranked 21st in the WTA rankings, Barker was advised by Roberts to relocate to the United States for her development. Subsequently signed by Mark McCormack's International Management Group (IMG) on her 17th birthday, she relocated that summer to an IMG provided town house in Newport Beach, California, where her neighbours included the newly retired Rod Laver, and was coached at the John Wayne Tennis Club.
The following year Barker won her first top-level singles title, and three additional titles in 1975. Barker reached her first Grand Slam semi-final in 1975 at the Australian Open. She won the German Open in 1976, beating Renáta Tomanová of Czechoslovakia in the final 6-3, 6-1.
Later in 1976, Barker had the biggest victory of her career by winning the French Open at the age of 20, again defeating Tomanová in the final. Barker's toughest game en route to the final in Paris was her quarter-final match against Regina Mar?íková, when Barker came back from a set down and won a gruelling final set 8-6. After her French Open victory against Tomanová, Barker felt that it would be the first of a number of Grand Slam titles that she would win, but she would not reach another Grand Slam final in her career.
In 1977, Barker won two singles titles in San Francisco and Dallas. She beat Martina Navratilova to reach the Virginia Slims Tour Championships final, where she lost in three sets to Chris Evert. Barker reached the Australian Open semi-final for the second time in 1977 and also reached the Wimbledon semi-final that year. She looked set to meet Virginia Wade in the Wimbledon final in 1977, but unexpectedly lost her semi-final against Betty Stöve of the Netherlands, which denied her the opportunity of playing against Wade in an all-British final.
Years later, Barker said that losing to Stöve was the biggest disappointment of her career and admitted that she was so upset at losing in the 1977 Wimbledon semi-final that she could not bear to watch the final, which was won by Wade.
After an injury-plagued 1978 during which her ranking dropped to World No. 24, she won three singles titles and reached three other finals in 1979. She was named the tour's "Comeback Player of the Year" by her fellow professionals. Barker reached one final in 1980 and won the last singles title of her career at the Brighton International in 1981, finishing the year ranked World No. 16. She won her last doubles title in 1982 at Cincinnati, and played her last professional match in 1984.
Barker won 15 singles titles and 12 doubles titles, posting wins over Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King, Evonne Goolagong, Tracy Austin, Virginia Wade, Maria Bueno, Rosemary Casals, Andrea Jaeger and Pam Shriver. In 2004, recalling her French Open win of 1976, Barker said: "I'm still incredibly proud of what I achieved."
|Win||1976||French Open||Clay||Renáta Tomanová||6-2, 0-6, 6-2|
|Loss||1977||New York City||Carpet (i)||Chris Evert||6-2, 1-6, 1-6|
|Loss||1979||New York City||Carpet (i)||Ann Kiyomura|| Françoise Dürr
|Winner||1.||27 May 1974||Surbiton||Grass||Sue Mappin||6-2, 7-5|
|Runner-up||1.||3 June 1974||Chichester||Grass||Paulina Peisachov||2-6, 2-6|
|Winner||2.||8 July 1974||Båstad||Clay||Marijke Jansen||6-1, 7-5|
|Winner||3.||7 July 1975||Båstad||Clay||Helga Niessen Masthoff||6-4, 6-0|
|Winner||4.||14 July 1975||Kitzbühel||Clay||Pam Teeguarden||6-4, 6-4|
|Runner-up||2.||5 November 1975||Paris||Carpet (i)||Virginia Wade||1-6, 7-6, 7-9|
|Winner||5.||1 December 1975||Adelaide||Grass||Helga Niessen Masthoff||6-5, ret.|
|Runner-up||3.||15 December 1975||Sydney||Grass||Evonne Goolagong||2-6, 4-6|
|Winner||6.||5 January 1975||Auckland||Grass||Helga Niessen Masthoff||6-2, 6-1|
|Runner-up||4.||10 May 1976||Bournemouth||Clay||Helga Niessen Masthoff||7-5, 3-6, 3-6|
|Winner||7.||17 May 1976||Hamburg||Clay||Renáta Tomanová||6-3, 6-1|
|Winner||8.||31 May 1976||French Open||Clay||Renáta Tomanová||6-2, 0-6, 6-2|
|Runner-up||5.||25 November 1976||Tokyo||Carpet (i)||Chris Evert||2-6, 6-7|
|Runner-up||6.||6 December 1976||Melbourne||Grass||Margaret Court||2-6, 2-6|
|Runner-up||7.||17 January 1977||Houston||Carpet (i)||Martina Navrátilová||6-7(3-7), 5-7|
|Runner-up||8.||24 January 1977||Minneapolis||Carpet (i)||Martina Navrátilová||0-6, 1-6|
|Runner-up||9.||21 February 1977||Detroit||Carpet (i)||Martina Navrátilová||4-6, 4-6|
|Winner||9.||28 February 1977||San Francisco||Carpet (i)||Virginia Wade||6-3, 6-4|
|Winner||10.||7 March 1977||Dallas||Carpet (i)||Terry Holladay||6-1, 7-6(7-4)|
|Runner-up||10.||24 March 1977||Virginia Slims Championships||Carpet (i)||Chris Evert||6-2, 1-6, 1-6|
|Runner-up||11.||12 December 1977||Sydney||Grass||Evonne Goolagong Cawley||2-6, 3-6|
|Winner||11.||21 November 1978||Brisbane||Grass||Chris O'Neil||6-1, 6-3|
|Runner-up||12.||12 March 1979||Boston||Carpet (i)||Dianne Fromholtz||2-6, 6-7(4-7)|
|Runner-up||13.||26 March 1979||Carlsbad||Hard||Kerry Melville Reid||6-7, 6-3, 2-6|
|Winner||12.||3 June 1979||Manchester||Grass||Anne Hobbs||7-5, 4-6, 6-0|
|Runner-up||14.||10 June 1979||Chichester||Grass||Evonne Goolagong Cawley||1-6, 4-6|
|Winner||13.||10 September 1979||Pittsburgh||Carpet (i)||Renée Richards||6-3, 6-1|
|Winner||14.||3 December 1979||Sydney||Grass||Rosalyn Fairbank||6-0, 7-5|
|Runner-up||15.||8 December 1980||Adelaide||Grass||Hana Mandlíková||1-6, 4-6|
|Runner-up||16.||10 August 1981||Richmond||Carpet (i)||Mary-Lou Piatek||4-6, 1-6|
|Winner||15.||19 October 1981||Brighton||Carpet (i)||Mima Jau?ovec||4-6, 6-1, 6-1|
|Runner-up||1.||26 May 1975||Rome||Clay||Glynis Coles|| Chris Evert
|Winner||1.||14 July 1975||Kitzbühel||Clay||Pam Teeguarden|| Fiorella Bonicelli
|Winner||2.||1 December 1975||Adelaide||Grass||Michelle Tyler|| Kym Ruddell
|Runner-up||2.||8 December 1975||Perth||Grass||Michelle Tyler|| Christine Matison
Lesley Turner Bowrey
|Runner-up||3.||16 August 1976||Toronto||Clay||Pam Teeguarden|| Cynthia Doerner
|7-6, 3-6, 1-6|
|Winner||3.||12 October 1976||Hilton Head Island||Clay||Evonne Goolagong|| Martina Navratilova
|4-6, 6-4, 3-6|
|Winner||4.||25 November 1976||Tokyo||Carpet (i)||Ann Kiyomura|| Rosie Casals
|4-6, 6-3, 6-1|
|Runner-up||4.||17 January 1977||Houston||Carpet (i)||Ann Kiyomura|| Martina Navratilova
|6-4, 2-6, 1-6|
|Runner-up||5.||28 February 1977||San Francisco||Carpet (i)||Ann Kiyomura|| Kerry Melville Reid
|Runner-up||6.||5 February 1979||Seattle||Carpet (i)||Ann Kiyomura|| Françoise Dürr
|6-7(4-7), 6-4, 4-6|
|Runner-up||7.||19 February 1979||Detroit||Carpet (i)||Ann Kiyomura|| Betty Stöve
|Runner-up||8.||12 March 1979||Boston||Carpet (i)||Ann Kiyomura|| Kerry Melville Reid
|Runner-up||9.||19 March 1979||Avon Championships||Carpet (i)||Ann Kiyomura|| Françoise Dürr
|Runner-up||10.||2 April 1979||Tokyo||Carpet (i)||Ann Kiyomura|| Françoise Dürr
|Winner||5.||10 September 1979||Pittsburgh||Carpet (i)||Candy Reynolds|| Bunny Bruning
|Runner-up||11.||3 December 1979||Sydney||Grass||Pam Shriver|| Billie Jean King
|Runner-up||12.||10 December 1979||Adelaide||Grass||Pam Shriver|| Hana Mandlíková
|1-6, 6-3, 2-6|
|Winner||6.||11 February 1980||Oakland||Carpet (i)||Ann Kiyomura|| Greer Stevens
|Runner-up||13.||31 March 1980||Tokyo||Carpet (i)||Ann Kiyomura|| Billie Jean King
|Runner-up||14.||8 December 1980||Adelaide||Grass||Sharon Walsh|| Pam Shriver
|Winner||7.||16 February 1981||Houston||Carpet (i)||Ann Kiyomura|| Regina Mar?íková
|5-7, 6-3, 6-4|
|Runner-up||15.||23 February 1981||Seattle||Carpet (i)||Ann Kiyomura|| Rosie Casals
|Winner||8.||2 March 1981||Los Angeles||Carpet (i)||Ann Kiyomura|| Peanut Louie
|6-1, 4-6, 6-1|
|Winner||9.||4 May 1981||Tokyo||Carpet (i)||Ann Kiyomura|| Barbara Potter
|Runner-up||16.||18 May 1981||Berlin||Clay||Renáta Tomanová|| Rosalyn Fairbank
|Winner||10.||8 June 1981||Surbiton||Grass||Ann Kiyomura|| Billie Jean King
|6-1, 6-7, 6-1|
|Runner-up||17.||3 August 1981||Indianapolis||Clay||Paula Smith|| JoAnne Russell
|Winner||11.||10 August 1981||Richmond||Carpet (i)||Ann Kiyomura|| Kathy Jordan
|4-6, 7-6, 6-4|
|Winner||12.||11 January 1982||Cincinnati||Carpet (i)||Ann Kiyomura|| Pam Shriver
|Runner-up||18.||15 February 1982||Houston||Carpet (i)||Sharon Walsh|| Kathy Jordan
|Grand Slam Tournaments|
|QF||A||3R||3R||1R||A||Q1||16-8||0 / 8|
|French Open||A||A||3R||W||A||A||2R||A||1R||A||A||1R||9-4||1 / 5|
|Wimbledon||2R||1R||3R*||QF||SF*||4R||1R||2R*||3R||1R||1R||2R||16-12||0 / 12|
|US Open||A||A||2R||4R*||3R||A||2R*||A||2R||A||A||1R||6-6||0 / 6|
|WTA Championships||Did not qualify||F||F||DNQ||SF||Did not qualify||9-5||0 / 4|
|Win-Loss||1-1||2-2||8-4||16-5||12-4||5-2||4-5||2-2||5-4||0-2||0-1||1-3||56-35||1 / 35|
|1R||A||SF||SF||1R||A||1R||10-9||0 / 9|
|French Open||A||QF*||2R*||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||2R||2-3||0 / 3|
|Wimbledon||2R*||QF*||1R||3R*||SF*||QF||QF||SF||2R*||1R||A||16-10||0 / 10|
|US Open||A||QF^||QF||A||A||1R||A||A||A||A||1R||5-3||0 / 4|
|WTA Championships||Did not qualify||F
|Did not qualify||1-2||0 / 2|
|Win-Loss||2-2||6-3||4-4||1-2||3-2||4-3||6-2||7-3||0-2||0-1||1-3||33-25||0 / 26|
|Australian Open||A||0-0||0 / 0|
|French Open||SF*^||A||2-0||0 / 1|
|Wimbledon||A||1R||A||3R||2R||3-3||0 / 3|
|US Open||A||0-0||0 / 0|
|Win-Loss||2-0||0-0||0-0||0-0||0-1||0-0||0-0||0-0||0-0||2-1||1-1||5-3||0 / 4|
|1974 Federation Cup|
|Date||Venue||Surface||Round||Opponents||Final match score||Match||Opponent||Rubber score|
|Naples||Clay||SF||Australia||0-3||Doubles(with Virginia Wade)||Goolagong/Young||0-6, 2-6 (L)|
|1975 Federation Cup|
|Aix-en-Provence||Clay||1R||Austria||3-0||Singles||Sabine Bernegger||6-3, 6-2 (W)|
|Doubles(with Glynis Coles)||Bernegger/Buche||6-3, 6-1 (W)|
|QF||France||1-2||Singles||Nathalie Fuchs||1-6, 6-1, 4-6 (L)|
|1976 Federation Cup|
|Philadelphia, PA||Carpet (I)||1R||France||3-0||Singles||Nathalie Fuchs||6-3, 6-0 (W)|
|Doubles(with Virginia Wade)||Benedetti/Darmon||6-3, 6-2 (W)|
|QF||South Africa||2-1||Singles||Linky Boshoff||6-1, 6-1 (W)|
|Doubles(with Michelle Tyler)||Boshoff/Kloss||1-6, 4-6 (L)|
|SF||Australia||0-3||Singles||Dianne Fromholtz||2-6, 6-7 (L)|
|Doubles(with Virginia Wade)||Cawley/Reid||1-6, 3-6 (L)|
|1977 Federation Cup|
|Eastbourne||Grass||1R||Denmark||3-0||Singles||Dorte Ekner||6-3, 6-1 (W)|
|Doubles(with Virginia Wade)||Ekner/Sparre||6-2, 6-2 (W)|
|2R||South Korea||3-0||Singles||Choi Kyeong-Mi||6-1, 6-3 (W)|
|Doubles(with Virginia Wade)||Choi/Lee||6-1, 6-0 (W)|
|QF||Sweden||3-0||Singles||Mimmi Wikstedt||6-2, 6-0 (W)|
|Doubles(with Virginia Wade)||Anliot/Wikstedt||6-2, 5-7, 6-3 (W)|
|SF||Australia||1-2||Singles||Dianne Fromholtz||3-6, 4-6 (L)|
|Doubles(with Virginia Wade)||Reid/Turnbull||6-1, 6-4 (W)|
|1978 Federation Cup|
|27 Nov -
|Melbourne||Grass||1R||Spain||3-0||Singles||Mónica Álvarez de Mon||6-0, 10-8 (W)|
|2R||West Germany||2-1||Singles||Sylvia Hanika||3-6, 2-6 (L)|
|Doubles(with Virginia Wade)||Ebbinghaus/Hanika||6-3, 6-0 (W)|
|QF||Czechoslovakia||2-1||Doubles(with Virginia Wade)||Mandlíková/Tomanová||8-6, 7-5 (W)|
|SF||United States||0-3||Doubles(with Anne Hobbs)||Casals/King||6-1, 3-6, 4-6 (L)|
|1979 Federation Cup|
|30 Apr -
|Madrid||Clay||1R||New Zealand||3-0||Singles||Chris Newton||6-0, 6-0 (W)|
|Doubles(with Virginia Wade)||Newton/Perry||6-1, 6-1 (W)|
|2R||Belgium||3-0||Singles||Monique Van Haver||6-3, 11-9 (W)|
|Doubles(with Virginia Wade)||Gurdal/Van Haver||6-3, 6-0 (W)|
|QF||Czechoslovakia||0-3||Singles||Hana Mandlíková||6-3, 6-8, 4-6 (L)|
|1980 Federation Cup|
|Berlin||Clay||1R||Israel||3-0||Singles||Paulina Peled||4-6, 7-6, 6-1 (W)|
|Doubles(with Glynis Coles)||Bialistozky/Peled||6-2, 6-3 (W)|
|2R||Argentina||2-1||Singles||Adriana Villagran Reami||5-7, 7-6, 6-2 (W)|
|Doubles(with Virginia Wade)||Madruga Osses/Villagran Reami||5-7, 6-2, 6-4 (W)|
|QF||West Germany||0-3||Singles||Bettina Bunge||2-6, 0-6 (L)|
|Doubles(with Virginia Wade)||Bunge/Hanika||3-6, 3-6 (L)|
|1981 Federation Cup|
|Tokyo||Clay||1R||Belgium||3-0||Doubles(with Jo Durie)||de Witte/de Wouters||6-3, 6-3 (W)|
|2R||France||3-0||Singles||Corinne Vanier||4-6, 6-2, 10-8 (W)|
|Doubles(with Virginia Wade)||Amiach/Tanvier||5-7, 6-1, 6-2 (W)|
|QF||Soviet Union||2-1||Singles||Elena Eliseenko||4-6, 6-4, 6-4 (W)|
|Doubles(with Virginia Wade)||Cherneva/Zaitseva||6-3, 6-1 (W)|
|SF||Australia||2-1||Singles||Wendy Turnbull||7-6, 3-6, 6-2 (W)|
|Doubles(with Virginia Wade)||Leo/Turnbull||7-6, 6-3 (W)|
|F||United States||0-3||Singles||Chris Evert||2-6, 1-6 (L)|
|1982 Federation Cup|
|2R||Israel||3-0||Singles||Orly Bialistozky||6-1, 6-3 (W)|
|QF||Soviet Union||1-2||Singles||Hana Mandlíková||7-6, 6-7, 3-6 (L)|
Upon retiring from tennis Barker became a commentator and sports reporter for Australia's Channel 7 in 1985 before going on to anchor tennis coverage for British Sky Broadcasting from 1990 to 1993. In 1993, Barker joined the BBC Wimbledon coverage as a regular guest on Today at Wimbledon with Harry Carpenter. She took over as host of Today at Wimbledon in 1994 and since 2000 has anchored the two-week-long broadcast for the network.
Barker has branched out since joining the BBC, becoming one of their chief sports presenters. She has been the presenter of the long-running sports quiz show A Question of Sport (QoS) since 1997, having replaced the late David Coleman. She will be retiring as QoS presenter following the BBC's decision to revamp the show; she is due to record her last episode in September 2020. She was a host of the annual BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards ceremony from 1994 to 2012 before stepping down in 2013.
Other sporting events she has hosted have included the Grand National (2000-2007), the Derby (2001-2007), Racing at Ascot and Longchamp (1995-1999), Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury, the Great North Run, World Athletics Championships and European Athletics Championships (1999-2009), BBC Sports Personality of the Year (1994-2012), Commonwealth Games (1994-2010), Summer Olympics (1996-2012) and Winter Olympics (1994-2010).
In June 1999, she co-presented coverage of HRH Prince Edward's wedding to Sophie Rhys-Jones at Windsor alongside Michael Buerk. Barker had introduced Rhys-Jones to Queen Elizabeth II's youngest son at a charity function a few years earlier.
In 2008, Barker and the BBC extended her contract to cover the London 2012 Summer Olympics. It is estimated to be worth £375,000 a year. In 2014, she stepped away from the cameras, but worked as a BBC commentator at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.
In July 2012, the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK received over 40 complaints for a Go Compare advert that Barker starred in when she was featured firing a large rocket launcher at opera singer Gio Compario (Wynne Evans) in an attempt to kill off the face of the brand. A spokesperson for the ASA said: "Some people think it offensive especially at a time when children are watching. Others think it inappropriate when our security forces are coming under fire on a daily basis. As with all complaints, we are looking into the matter before deciding if we launch a full investigation."
Barker was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2000 New Year Honours for services to sport and to broadcasting and Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to broadcasting and charity.
In 1978, Barker broke off an engagement with Australian tennis player Syd Ball. In an interview the following year, she said: "I realised that Syd wasn't the answer. Underneath, I wasn't happy and I certainly wasn't ready for marriage. I wasn't fair to him or myself." After her engagement was broken off, she had a brief relationship with another Australian, golfer Greg Norman.
In 1982, Barker met singer Cliff Richard. Their romance attracted considerable media attention after Richard flew to Denmark to watch her play in a tennis match and they were later photographed cuddling and holding hands at Wimbledon. Richard said in 2008 that he had come close to asking her to marry him. He said: "I seriously contemplated asking her to marry me, but in the end I realised that I didn't love her quite enough to commit the rest of my life to her."
In 1986, after Barker's romance with Richard had ended and she began a brief relationship with tennis player Stephen Shaw, Richard said that he was still a friend of Barker. He said: "We have a mutual respect for each other and that means a lot to me."
In 1988, Richard said of his former romance with Barker: "We were closer than just friends. She's the only person with whom I've had that sort of relationship." He said that one of the things which made up his mind not to marry her was when she got upset because he hadn't told her who he was seeing that day. Richard said: "I suddenly realised that in a marriage you don't live for yourself."
In 1988, Barker married landscape gardener and former policeman Lance Tankard. They live in the Cotswolds village of Stanton, Gloucestershire after moving from a mansion on a 26-acre estate in Godalming, Surrey.
In 1980, Barker was temporarily blinded in her right eye after a large dog in Spain jumped up and bit her. She lost the sight in her eye for five hours and feared that the dog attack would force her to stop playing tennis, which she said "broke her heart".
In an interview in 1999, Barker said that during her tennis career she was approached by a lesbian tennis player in the locker room and touched "in a way that didn't feel right". Barker refused to name the female tennis player involved.