Boris Becker: From Tennis Greatness to Financial Disaster | Boris Becker

Ever since the day in 1985, when he went from being an unseeded 17-year-old to the youngest male tennis player to winning a Wimbledon final, Boris Becker has had a special bond with the British public.

Adored for his triumphs, the Wimbledon crowd loved him in defeat: 10 years after becoming a sensation overnight in Center Court, Becker was finally beaten by Pete Sampras. But it was Becker the crowd called for, cheering him on to jog a lap on the court so they could applaud him.

Nicknamed Britain’s favorite German – he once joked that he was “top of a short list” – his ties to Britain have lasted for almost 40 years. Even after putting the racket on, his good humor and colorful love life have ensured that he has never strayed far from the public eye.

But the man who was once nicknamed “Boom Boom” for his powerful, aggressive serve is now not only bankrupt, even though he was once worth an estimated £ 38 million, but has been found guilty of four offenses under the Insolvency Act. He was acquitted of another 20 charges.

Becker held the Wimbledon trophy high in 1985.
Becker held the Wimbledon trophy high in 1985. Photo: Bob Dear / AP

Southwark Crown Court heard how Becker was accused of concealing millions of pounds by hiding assets, including the same Wimbledon singles trophy he won in 1985, from his creditors.

In the concluding speech by Becker’s defense attorney, Jonathan Laidlaw QC, jurors were told that although there was one element of Becker who “buried his head in the sand” when it came to questions of money and economics, “some of [his] counselors offered genuine good advice intended to be in the defendant’s best interest – others, who may be the way of the world, may have just wanted a piece of the pie, his fame and fortune offered ”.

Becker’s time at the top is still a sports legend’s case – always in attack, charging up to the net for a devastating diving volley – but his name is now synonymous with not only these successes, but a series of catastrophic financial mishaps, lavish lives and allegations of shady deception.

The 54-year-old former BBC commentator and former coach of Novak Djokovic – where the Serbian tennis star won seven grand slam titles – was accused of giving officials the “round” when he got into financial difficulties and was told to declare his assets , Southwark Crown Court heard on Friday. He was accused of hiding millions of pounds in assets before and after being declared bankrupt in June 2017, but Becker said he had done nothing wrong.

It was after his retirement in 1999, after 14 years at the top, that Becker’s private life imploded: his tangled love life made him an integral part of the tabloid front pages, largely thanks to a paternity case, DNA test and then a divorce from the first. wife, Barbara, after a daughter was conceived in a brief but infamous meeting with Russian model Angela Ermakova in the broom closet of London’s restaurant Nobu in 1999.

Angela Ermakova left court in London in 2015 after reaching a settlement with Becker in their paternity case.
Angela Ermakova left court in London in 2015 after reaching a settlement with Becker in their paternity case. Photo: Sean Smith / The Guardian

“In sports, you get called old when you’re 31,” he said at the time. “It affects your self-esteem and confidence. It took me a few years to redefine myself. I did not know what to write in my passport as a profession. Ex-tennis player? It’s about finding a new role that satisfies you equally so much.”

The current trial was not Becker’s first brush-up of the law: in 2002, a Munich court sentenced Becker to a two-year suspended prison sentence and a fine of € 300,000 for tax evasion of around € 1.7 million.

Then, as now, Becker threw himself at the mercy of the court, claiming he had done wrong, but not knowingly. In a remarkable testimony, he said he had been forced to give up his tennis career because of the stress of the tax authorities’ investigation of his case.

“Tennis is a very psychological game and you need to be free from fears and worries about what will come your way next time,” he told the court, describing a raid on his home in Munich in 1998, where his parents lived. at the time. His father, who already lived with the cancer that was to kill him, was kept in the house for six hours and prevented by tax inspectors from coming to a doctor’s appointment.

Any experience from that experience, however, seems to have been lost. The crowd’s one-time darling is now seeking to rebuild his life.

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