Legendary Telegraph columnist Rebecca Wilson dies aged 54

Legendary Telegraph columnist Rebecca Wilson dies aged 54

The award-winning sports journalist at The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph lost her long and very private battle to cancer this morning.

Her husband John Hartigan and sons Tom and Will this morning said:

“Our amazing Bec lost her long battle against breast cancer early today.

Rebecca Wilson and John Hartigan – Champions of the West Ceremony at Rooty Hill RSL. Picture Craig Greenhill

“She passed away peacefully in the family home in Sydney while surrounded by her loved ones.

“Courage has always been a significant part of her DNA, no less in her desperate battle against her insidious disease.

“Rebecca kept knowledge of her illness a closely guarded secret. The majority of her friends, colleagues and indeed members of her family were unaware of the extent of her illness. She did so to limit their suffering.

The legendary columnist was also a loving mum to Tom and Will, pictured here in 2009.

“We are so proud that she was so fearless in her chosen role as a sports journalist. She brushed aside evil trolls, bullies and organised crime figures to prosecute her craft.

“She proved that women had an equally important role in sports journalism as her male counterparts.

“We dearly love and miss our Bec.”

Broadcaster Alan Jones broke down while paying tribute to his good friend and regular guest during his show this morning.

Jones said he had visited Wilson each day recently and spoke of her brilliance as a journalist.

“Bec was a force of nature in a way. She was brilliant, she was unsparing and unyielding as a journalist,” he said, clearly shaken by the loss.

“As one of her friends said to me ‘she was the best of all anomolies – a tomboy who held her own with the blokes, she was comfortable in her own skin, fiercely real’.”

Michael Miller, Executive Chairman News Corp Australasia, said Rebecca was one of Australia’s most respected sports journalists – expert, passionate and utterly fearless.

“Rebecca told it like it was, how it should be, and no one was ever left wondering what she thought. She was courageous, she was bold, she was determined and she never gave up. Her private fight against the cancer which took her life is testament to that spirit,” he said.

“She was a pioneer in female sports journalism, and excelled in a career across print, television and radio. Her columns were a must-read and her opinions provocative and fierce

“She also had an exacting radar for jibberers.

“She loved journalism and all that it stood for. There was never another career option for Rebecca – she was born into a family of news people – her grandfather was a newsagent; her father Bruce was a legendary foreign correspondent for News; her brother Jim is a sports journalist with Channel 7; and her husband John Hartigan, our former CEO and good friend, is a journalist.

“Bec’s family were her greatest love, and her sons Tom and Will, her greatest work.”

TODAY Show host Karl Stefanovic also paid tribute to Rebecca on the breakfast show this morning, saying ‘a real light had gone out’ with her death.

Co-host Sylivia Jeffries added that Wilson had paved the way for female journalists to succeed in the traditionally blokey world of sport.

As Australia woke to the news of Rebecca’s passing, tributes began to flow:

* This obituary was first published in The Daily Telegraph, and appears courtesy of News Corp Australia.

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