Sue Barker 'would've kissed umpire' if she knew French Open would be only title

British tennis legend Sue Barker

Sue Barker revealed she “would have kissed the umpire” if she had known the 1976 French Open would be her only Grand Slam title.

Barker, who stepped down from the BBC’s coverage of Wimbledon earlier this year, was speaking on radio show Desert Island Discs.

She described winning the French Open in 1976 at the age of 20, an achievement which ended up being the most significant of her playing career.

“[I was] absolutely terrified,” she said. “Because this was the dream – to win a Slam.

“Rankings are important, but legacy is the Grand Slams and I wanted to be a Grand Slam champion, so it just meant so much to me.”

Up against Czech player Renáta Tomanová, Barker won the first set 6-2. But it all fell apart in the second set, which she lost 6-0.

British tennis player Sue Barker
14 Jun 1976: English Tennis player Sue Barker on her way to victory in the French Championships. She beat Russian Renata Tomanova in three sets. Mandatory Credit: Allsport Hulton/Archive

“In the second set, the panic sets in and then it’s like an avalanche,” Barker explained. “You just can’t stop.

“I just was playing so badly, but they had this rule before the final set. You could have a 10-to-15-minute break and I managed to regroup, think what Arthur [tennis coach Arthur Roberts] would say and went out and won it and that just means everything to me.

“Having said that, I was only young, 20, and I thought this would be the first of many. If I’d have known it was going to be my only one, I would have danced around the court, I would have kissed the umpire. But it was magical.”

Barker reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon and the Australian Open the following year, but she never made it to a Grand Slam final again.

After retiring aged 28, Barker was approached by Gordon Bennett, the head of Channel 7 in Australia.

Broadcasting legend Sue Barker
LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 02: BBC Presenter, Sue Barker speaks prior to the Men’s Singles Third Round match between Rafael Nadal of Spain and Lorenzo Sonego of Italy on day six of The Championships Wimbledon 2022 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 02, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

This was her first step into the world of sports broadcasting, and she ended up joining the BBC in 1993.

Barker has since hosted Wimbledon, the Olympics and A Question of Sport, but she revealed it was Grandstand that had a special place in her heart.

“It’s the one that I think I was most proud to do because it was what I used to watch every Saturday… sitting with my dad and my mum.”

1 of 14
Nadal, Federer

Who is the youngest men’s singles champion in Wimbledon history

News Now - Sport News