John Inverdale loses Wimbledon job after 'sexist' remarks

May 22, 2014

BBC sports presenter John Inverdale will be replaced by Clare Balding for this year's tournament

David Cannon/Getty Images

Veteran sports journalist John Inverdale will be replaced by Clare Balding as presenter of Radio 5Live's Wimbledon coverage in the wake of sexist comments he made about last year's winner, Marion Bartoli.

The 56-year-old sports presenter will continue to cover the tournament "in some capacity", but the lead role has been officially handed to Balding, The Sun reports.

Speaking before last year's women's final, won by Bartoli, Inverdale said of the Frenchwoman: "I wonder if her dad did say to her when she was 12, 13, 14, 'Listen, you're never going to be a looker. You're never going to be somebody like a Sharapova, you're never going to be somebody with long legs, so you have to compensate for that'."

The BBC received more than 700 complaints after the broadcast, and the then culture secretary Maria Miller wrote directly to the BBC director-general, Tony Hall, to voice her concerns.

A BBC source told the Sun that Inverdale is being kept on but "it's a real demotion and a clear sign for all male sports commentators to drop sexist language".

The source added: "John's comments were seen as totally unacceptable and the people in charge don't want to take the risk of another incident."

In an interview with the Radio Times this week, Inverdale said that he was suffering from hay fever, and made the comments when he was feeling unwell and struggling to fill time.

He said: "I was feeling so ill that day, I had terrible hay fever and all I could think of was that I wanted to go home to bed. I had Andy Murray in the final the next day, I knew I had to be on form. Your mind is going all over the place, we're on air from 12 noon till 7pm with not a single word written and you've got to fill the time."

Inverdale will be joined by Bartoli, 29, in presenting ITV's coverage of the French Open, which begins on Sunday.

She said: "I'd known John a long time, and I knew what he was trying to say... But the beauty of tennis is that anyone can win — tall or short".

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Inverdale made a silly mistake, that was all. If Clare Balding had balls, she'd tell them where to stick the job.

..or be Clarence.