Champion with an extravagant style like his red hair, Boris Becker was the youngest Wimbledon winner at 17, then one of the best players of his generation, before economic setbacks and various embezzlements took him to court once finished his career.
His London court sentence of two and a half years in prison on Friday for fraudulent bankruptcy is not the first. In 2002, he had already received a two-year suspended prison sentence and a fine of 500,000 euros after a lengthy dispute with the German tax administration accusing him of having declared himself a resident of Monegasque when in fact lived in Munich.
In 2017, a court in London declared him bankrupt due to bad business in different sectors (ready-to-wear, car sales, etc.), forcing him to sell some of his trophies in an auction for clear an estimated debt of 59 million euros. .
On the tracks, the German with six Grand Slam titles (3 at Wimbledon, 2 at the Australian Open and 1 at the US Open between 1985 and 1996), now 54, gave the impression of an immense confidence in him. In reality, he was a fragile man, who always struggled with the burden of fame.
“Goodbye to freedom! The pressure has become superhuman.” This is how Leimen’s boy, Baden-Württemberg, summed up his mood once the euphoria of his 1985 victory on the London turf had evaporated in his autobiography (“The Player”).
The first German to win a Grand Slam, he instantly became a superstar in his home country. His sentimental adventures, his tumultuous relationships with his coaches, his entire life, would now be scrutinized and commented on.
– Addicted to sleeping pills –
Harassed by blackmail, flooded with letters, some of which were threatening, chased by the paparazzi, he had to be protected by bodyguards to go shopping or to attend matches at his favorite football club, Bayern Munich.
He suffered above all from being exalted one day and vilified the following week according to his results. “The cruelty, intransigence and intolerance I faced surprised me. I started building a brick wall around me and that’s how I survived,” he explained.
To combat stress, he relied on sleeping pills (often beer and whiskey regattas) on which he became addicted. He emerged at odd hours, in the fog, as on the day of the 1990 Wimbledon final, which he lost to Stefan Edberg.
At the age of 23, he even made the decision to announce his retirement after the 1991 Wimbledon final, only in case of victory, because “he was tired of a life in which all he did was kick a pilot “. But he lost to compatriot Michael Stich.
His career is rich, but he is still below his potential. In addition to his six Grand Slam titles, he won 43 more tournaments, including three Masters, was number 1 in the world, Olympic doubles champion with Stich in 1992 and gave Germany his first two Davis Cups. But for Ion Tiriac, his first mentor, “he should have won three more times.”
– Djokovic’s coach –
The German could be a bulldozer that shattered the opponent with two racquet blows: “Boom Boom” as he was christened. His service was his best weapon and his presence on the net, where his jumps delighted the public, he did the rest, especially on grass and hard tracks, let alone on clay.
His home ground was Wimbledon, where he played seven finals, Bont three in a row against one of his biggest competitors, Stefan Edberg (one win, two losses). Another great rival was Ivan Lendl whom he beat in three finals at Wimbledon, the Australian Open and the US Open.
After his career, he bought a house in London where he settled down to spend a retirement far from being peaceful, amid painful marital relationships, problems with the prosecutor and failed investments.
In 2000, he divorced his first wife, Barbara, who accused him of having a brief affair with another woman while she was pregnant at a restaurant in London, from which a daughter was born. The breakup cost him $ 25 million, his Miami property and custody of his first two children.
After his career, however, he not only experienced failures. As a coach, he helped Novak Djokovic win six major titles (from 2014 to 2016) and as a BBC consultant he was appreciated for his humor during Wimbledon.