TV presenter John Inverdale has "explained" why he said Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli was "never going to be a looker" at last year's championships - he was suffering from hay fever.

Inverdale, 56, sparked a furore when he made the comment about the French player, who had just won last summer's ladies' final.

The presenter, who has now signed up with Bartoli, 29, to commentate for ITV on the French Open, told Radio Times that as well as feeling unwell, he was attempting to fill time. "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," he said. "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."

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He added: "I'm not making excuses here, just trying to explain. And I was going to say that in your early years, you're dealt a set of cards - and actually I was going to use the phrase 'physical attributes' - then I thought, 'No, don't say that' and said something far worse."

Inverdale said he knew that he had committed a gaffe but his BBC training meant he did not say sorry. Bartoli told the magazine that she was not bothered by the comment. "I'd won Wimbledon," she said. "That was always the most important thing. For a month and a half afterwards I was literally sleeping with my trophy."