In 1976, Sue Barker, the 20-years-old English-born tennis player became the 6th British female winner in Paris following Ann Haydon-Jones' success in 1966. Sue defeated Czechoslovakian Renata Tomanova 6-2 0-6 6-2 to win the French Open women's singles championship. Sue had played Renata 4 times professionally between 1976 and 1981, winning all matches. At the $100,000 Hollywood tennis tournament in 1977, Sue told the press, "I knew what she was going to do. I've played her a lot. I think she maybe tries a little too much. She hits the ball solidly. It's a nice pace for me. I don’t have to start changing my game. I just hit side to side."
In 1975, Sue reached the semifinals of the Australian Open. Sue who retired from professional tennis in 1985 told Inter Press Service, "I love Australia, it's my favorite country. I've always supported their tournamnents, and I don’t think I’ve missed a year for ages." Back in 1976, Sue was voted Rookie of the year and finished the season earning $120,000 in prize money.
Growing up "in such a very, very small town (Paignton)", Sue told Bob Ruf of the 'Herald–Tribune' in 1977 as well as the Associated Press, "It (tennis) was just sort of a hobby at first. I began playing at age 11 and entered my first tournament when I was 12 … I had to make a decision when I was 16½, whether I wanted to play. Up until then, it had been something to do for fun. I wanted to do a cooking course – go through college, and then teach.
"Tennis was a way to see the world. I said, 'Why not do it a year or 2?' I got ranked 2nd in Britain and I couldn’t very well give it up … My parents weren't too keen on the idea of my playing tennis but I really wanted to give it a chance and my mother agreed. I had never been out of England, with the exception of a trip to France and that's only a 40-minute plane ride. So I went on tour, played pretty well and wound up ranked No. 2 in England (behind Virginia Wade)."
"Playing at Wimbledon was a dream come true for me. I used to watch it as a kid and dream about playing there," Sue told Paul Jenkins of the 'Gainesville Sun' in 1983. Sue reached the semifinals of Wimbledon in 1977. Of the 1976 quarterfinals, Sue confessed, "You wouldn't believe how nervous I was at Wimbledon. It was my first time there (in the quarters) and that's something very special for someone from England. I don't think they expected too much of me but once I got to the quarterfinals I think they really wanted to see another Briton in the semis (beside Virginia Wade). (However) Martina (Navratilova) was just too good for me."
Sue had played Martina Navratilova 13 times between 1976 and 1983, winning once at the Hollywood tournament in 1977. Only 3 times, did Sue stretch Martina to 3 sets. She played Virginia Wade 8 times between 1977 and 1980, winning 5 times and Sue played Chris Evert 10 times between 1976 and 1982, winning once in Boston in 1979. Of winning against Chris, Sue observed, "I attacked a lot more. I used to try to out-rally her. That's pretty impossible to do … Now (in 1979) I'm going for my shots. I'm not making the mistakes early in the rallies.
"My game is built around my forehand but trying to get the ball past Chris is another thing. Her anticipation is so great that I have to get 2 or 3 good shots to win my point. Chris used to overawe me, especially when I first played her on clay 3 years ago (in 1974). Martina is a tough lefthander, but I like to play lefthanders. I like to use a person's power against her and don't mind coming into the net. Virginia is another story. I beat her 3 times (in 1977) and I get up more for a match against her than any other player on the tour because she's British. I want to be the best in England … The fans in England have been great to me. I don't think I've deserved it, but they've been great."
Sue also mentioned, "There are only about 15 indoor courts in the country (England) so to have 2 near me was lucky. When I was 17, I moved to America because there really wasn't anyone to practice with over there. Over here (the U.S.) there are an abundance of people to practice against. Then I got homesick. I always have and I always will, I think. I miss home when I'm on tour but when I'm at home I start to miss the tour.
"My game has always been structured around my forehand. When I first began playing on the major tour everyone would hit to my backhand because it was so bad. They exploited it, and that’s why I didn’t win very many matches. But the longer they kept hitting to my backhand the better it got and now (in 1977) I have confidence in every shot. I still need some work on my volleying but that will come in time."