Sue Barker almost got proposed to by Cliff Richard before 34-year marriage to ex-policeman

A Question of Sport: Sue Barker says goodbye

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Sue Barker, 66, was once in a highly-publicised relationship with Cliff Richard during which he almost popped the question to her. However, in a twist of fate, the musician decided against proposing and Sue ended up meeting her husband of 34 years, former policeman Lance Tankard.

The tennis legend met Cliff after they were introduced by Alan Godson, a vicar from Liverpool.

He explained that Sue was on “a spiritual journey” and needed the musician’s help to navigate it, while being in the limelight.

Sir Cliff had previously watched her victory over US tennis star Tracy Austin and immediately recognised her face.

His friend and former The Shadows bandmate Hank Marvin had “coincidentally” met her and “popped along to see her” play.

Following their introduction, Cliff called Sue “out of the blue” and invited her to watch The Shadows’ gig with him in London in 1982.

After the show, they went to meet a “very down-to-earth congregation” and talked about “what faith meant”.

In his autobiography The Dreamer, which was released in 2020, Cliff explained that Sue was “away on the road as much as me”.

He wrote: “I went to play dates in the Far East, but I thought about her a lot and we kept in touch via letters and phone calls.”

In a previous book, 2008 autobiography My Life, My Way, Cliff delved deeper into their relationship and revealed that Sue was one of only two women he had considered marrying.

Cliff wrote: “Of all the women I’ve known, there were only two that I’ve come close to marrying.

“One was Jackie Irving, a dancer whom I met in Blackpool. She was utterly beautiful and for a while we were inseparable.”

He then confessed that the other one was Sue, adding: “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. There were no broken hearts.”

Sue announced last week that she had decided to step down and retire from her sports presenting.

She revealed she will be retiring following this year’s Wimbledon tournament, putting an end to a career that spanned three decades.

In an official statement via the BBC, Sue said she has worked “with the best” as she looked back on her astonishing career.

Following the announcement, fans inundated social media platforms sharing their regret over the “loss for the BBC”.

Responding to a tweet announcing the decision, Twitter user DavidHo34435012 typed: “Well done and leaving on YOUR terms. What a loss for the BBC. We’ll always have great memories of what you have given to the world of tennis, in so many different ways.”

IanComer3 tweeted: “Well, good luck to the white middle-aged male sports presenters hoping to get Sue Barker’s job for Wimbledon 2023.

“Don’t waste your time. To have the qualities that Sue has shown hosting Wimbledon over the years, is nigh on impossible. We should all treasure her last hurrah!”

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