Clare Balding has revealed she hid her sexuality for close to a decade after starting at the BBC as a trainee journalist in 1993.
The presenter, 50, candidly explained: ‘I was worried that if people discovered I was in a relationship with a woman I might be discriminated against when it came to choosing presenters on TV.’
Clare – who came out as a lesbian in 2003 and has been happily married to wife Alice Arnold for almost six years – added: ‘I was brought up to think that the only ‘acceptable’ relationship meant being married to a man.’
Candid: Clare Balding, 50, has revealed she hid her sexuality for close to a decade after starting at the BBC as a trainee journalist in 1993 (pictured on Lorraine this month)
She added: ‘A lot has changed in the world since then, thankfully,’ according to The Sun.
Writing in her forthcoming book, Fall Off, Get Back On Keep Going, Clare also assured readers of the importance of ‘speaking out’ as people are ‘kind and supportive’.
Claire wrote: ‘The fear of how you imagine people will react to you speaking out is often much worse than the reality. Most people were really kind and supportive.’
Since coming out nearly 20 years ago, Clare has presented six Olympic Games as well as Channel 4’s Paralympics. She’s also hosted Wimbledon and the Sports Personality Of The Year Awards.
The TV personality has also been a presenter on BBC’s Countryfile and reported from major Royal events including Trooping the Colour and the Royal Wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
She is also a best-selling author, having written five books, and has campaigned for better coverage of women’s sport.
Honest: Clare – who’s been married to wife Alice Arnold (pictured) for almost six years – added: ‘I was brought up to think that the only ‘acceptable’ relationship meant being married to a man’
For five years between 2013 and 2018, she hosted The Clare Balding Show on BT Sport and interviewed some of the most famous names in the industry.
In October, the broadcaster told how her father was ‘absolutely flabbergasted’ when she landed a job hosting BBC’s flagship sports show Grandstand.
The TV personality, who has forged a successful 25-year career, told how her father, Ian Balding, was stunned after she beat top male presenters to win an award.
Clare said she was angry at her parents for having a ‘lack of acknowledgement for women’s achievements’ and was ‘determined to do things they thought women couldn’t’.
Female success: Clare revealed her father didn’t believe she could be a successful presenter because she is a woman
Clare said when she was young ‘it was assumed she wouldn’t want anything to do with the family business’, which is horse racing.
Her father Ian Balding ran a successful horse training business, which has now been succeeded by her brother Andrew.
Speaking on the Paul McKenna podcast at the time, she said: ‘There’s lots of it that wouldn’t have suited me, but it’s that feeling of when you are very young knowing that it’s not an option for you.’
She added: ‘I wanted to be my own person. I was very angry at my parents for their lack of acknowledgements for women’s achievements and that made me really determined to do the things that maybe they thought women couldn’t do.
Family business: Clare said when she was young ‘it was assumed she wouldn’t want anything to do with the family business’, which is horse racing (pictured with her father in 2012)
‘I remember when I first presented Grandstand on the BBC my father being absolutely flabbergasted.
‘He didn’t realise that was something any women could do let alone me.
‘I remember the very first award I ever won was the RTS award for a sports presenter. I went to the dinner and was nominated but thought “I’ve got no chance [of winning]”.
‘I told dad that I was up against Steve Rider, who is the loveliest man, and another very famous man. It wouldn’t have been Jeff Stelling… but someone of that stature.
‘My father just went “You’ve got no chance, not against them”. And then I won and you just sort of think “this is quite surprising” – to my father certainly.
Award winner: Balding (pictured on The Jonathan Ross Show) told how her father was stunned after she beat top male presenters to win an award
‘Other people might have been a little more open minded, but you know.
‘So that was a big drive to do something, not to make him proud – although I’m sure that was there too – but to be different from anyone else and nobody else in the family worked in the media.’
The TV personality added that she looks back now and is glad she wasn’t ‘expected’ to follow into her family’s business.
Olympic broadcaster: Balding has presented the Olympics coverage six times, including in Rio 2016 (pictured)