CLARE Balding is to return as the host of Radio 5 Live's Wimbledon coverage, replacing John Inverdale who sparked a row last year with offensive on-air comments.

Inverdale caused a storm when listeners heard him say Marion Bartoli - who went on to be women's champion - was "not much of a looker".

Balding had previously been the station's Wimbledon host, but was unable to front the coverage due to other commitments.

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Inverdale will continue to work on the BBC's tournament coverage with highlights on TV.

A spokeswoman for the station said: "We have a wide team of talent that work across TV and radio at Wimbledon and John is very much a part of this again this year, and will present the daily highlights pro-gramme on BBC2, Today At Wimbledon.

"Clare Balding reprises her presenting role on Radio 5 Live, which she has done before."

Inverdale told earlier this week how a bout of hay fever and efforts to fill airtime had been behind his comment.

The 56-year-old told Radio Times magazine: "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."