Still a Devon girl at heart...

Devon Life|June 2020

Still a Devon girl at heart...
They called her the ‘Paignton Peach’ because she had it all going for her – youth, a brilliant tennis talent and eyecatching good looks - and she was from Devon. We are talking about Sue Barker of course. BERNARD BALE catches up with her to talk tennis, TV and her home county
BERNARD BALE

“I am proud to come from Devon,” says Sue Barker. “Is there a better county? I don’t think so. I have been in most parts of Britain and there are some fabulous places but Devon beats them all. Perhaps I am biased.”

Sue was indeed born and brought up in Paignton in an ordinary family and enjoyed permanently being by the seaside.

“I think growing up in that environment made me an outdoor person although I must say that as a family we used to curl up together on the settee and watch black and white television, especially of course when tennis was on. I loved watching Wimbledon on TV and never guessed that one day I would actually play there.”

Sue went to the Marist Convent School in Paignton and was delighted to discover that the school loved tennis as well.

“Everyone seemed to be tennis crazy and we even had a trip to Wimbledon which was fantastic,” Sue recalls. “I played and loved every minute of it. Having had a lot of encouragement from the school and at home I won a junior schools championship. “When I when I was ten I was selected for special training by Arthur Roberts, who was one of the most successful coaches in the sport. He had coached the great Angela Mortimer who was Wimbledon champion in 1961.

“Arthur was brilliant to me and I learned so much. He was a hard taskmaster but very fair and always encouraging. I remember that when I was old enough he started entering me into tournaments overseas and used to tell me that he was booking a one-way travel ticket and that I would have to earn the return ticket by working hard and having some success in the tournament.”

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June 2020