Sue Barker: Question of Sport star in blunder unnoticed for four decades

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Sue Barker, 64, has been axed from ‘A Question of Sport’ after she spent 23 years fronting the popular quiz show. While the BBC are yet to announce her replacement, Alex Scott was rumoured to be among the frontrunners – something the corporation recently claimed to be “speculation”. Barker turned her hand to presenting after 13 years on the tennis court, when she became known as one of the UK’s top talents. Recently it has been revealed that one of her best sport achievements was overshadowed by a mistake.

At the height of her success, Barker was the third best in the world singles rankings and achieved a number of feats during her career. 

The Devon-born tennis star was 10 years old when she was handpicked for private tennis coaching and would go on to win 15 singles and 12 doubles titles during her 13 years in the sport. 

Her personal highlight was defeating Renáta Tomanová, from Czechoslovakian, in the final of the 1976 French Open, at the age of 20.

However, unbeknown to Barker her legacy was slightly altered when her name and nation was engraved on the trophy – the mistake was only recognised this past year. 

It was detected by Australian tennis star Ashleigh Barty who lifted the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen trophy after beating Markéta Vondroušová, from the Czech Republic, in straight sets last June. 

She spotted that instead of the initials “GB” to denote Great Britain, the unknown engraver had actually written “AUST” – which unintentionally implied that Barker was from Australia. 

The Times reported that French organisers had vowed to amend the mistake immediately as well as another error that had been spotted on the trophy.

The 1977 French Open winner Mima Jausovec’s name was misspelled as ‘Jausevec’.

Barker’s victory in the competition was her only Grand Slam singles title and she remembered it very fondly.

She told the BBC in 2004: “I’m still incredibly proud of what I achieved

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“My celebrations weren’t exactly over the top – I remember walking off thinking ‘great, that’s the first one down’.

“I had only just turned 20 and I just always felt that I would win Grand Slams – it was just a case of when – so when I won the French Open, it was more a sense of relief.

“Had I known that I would never win another one, I probably would have gone out and painted Paris red!”

Instead, Barker recalled that she had “some champagne” with British journalists and flew home to see her mother and father – which she dubbed: “Not very glamorous!”

She continued: “But it was a big story in the press and I did all sorts of television chat shows and news programmes afterwards.

“My only slight regret is that I would have liked to have beaten Chris Evert on the way to the trophy – but like they always say, you can only beat what’s put in front of you.”

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