Boris Becker: Downfall of a Wimbledon legend left relying on charity handouts

29 April 2022, 16:17 | Updated: 29 April 2022, 16:21

Boris Becker won Wimbledon at the age of 17 becoming a crowd favourite
Boris Becker won Wimbledon at the age of 17 becoming a crowd favourite. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Boris Becker has been jailed for two and a half years after hiding £2.5 million worth of assets and loans to avoid paying his debts.

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The former tennis star's reputation was destroyed when he was found guilty of transferring hundreds of thousands of pounds from his business account and failing to declare a property in his home town of Leimen, Germany.

He was also convicted of hiding 825,000 euro (almost £700,000) in a bank loan and 75,000 shares in a tech firm.

Despite his "glittering" sporting career, Becker has now been left forced to rely on charity to survive, his lawyer said.

Having been born in Leimen in 1967, Becker began tennis at a young age with fellow tennis star Steffi Graf.

He later became a part of the German Tennis Federation in 1978 and turned pro in 1984, winning Wimbledon just a year later at the age of 17.

Becker was the only unseeded player and first German to do so at the time, as well as the youngest male to win - before Michael Chang later scooped the title from him.

He quickly became a crowd favourite and was affectionately nicknamed Boom Boom for his powerful ground strokes.

Read more: Boris Becker jailed for over two years for hiding £2.5m assets to avoid bankruptcy debts

Read more: Three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker guilty of four charges over 2017 bankruptcy

Becker on the tennis court in 1984.
Becker on the tennis court in 1984. Picture: Alamy

The following year, Becker won Wimbledon again and had a third success in 1989.

He was a finalist there for four other years and also helped his nation win the coveted Davis Cup in 1988 and 1989.

He went on to win the Australian Open in 1991 - ranking as world number one - as well as 1996.

The tennis star announced his retirement in the sport following a straight sets quarter final defeat against Pat Rafter in 1999.

He went on to become a coach and became head coach to current world number one Novak Djokovic for three years from 2013.

During his 16-year professional tennis career, Becker was a six-time Grand Slam champion and collected 49 singles titles out of 77 finals.

Becker trainer Djokovic for three years from 2013.
Becker trainer Djokovic for three years from 2013. Picture: Alamy

Becker married Barbara Feltus in 1993 and the couple had two children - a son, Noah, who was born in 1994, and a daughter, Elias, born in 1999.

In December 2000, the pair announced they were separating.

A year later, Becker was forced to concede that he was the father of Russian model Angela Ermakova's daughter Anna following a High Court battle.

He initially denied having fathered his daughter during an encounter in 1999 in the broom cupboard of a London restaurant.

In 2002, Becker was convicted for tax evasion and attempted tax evasion in Germany.

Seven years later, he announced he was engaged to Dutch model Sharlely "Lilly" Kerssenberg and the pair had a son together in 2010. They announced their separation in 2018.

Becker, who has lived in the UK since 2012, continued to make headlines with reports of financial trouble after he was declared bankrupt in 2017.

Earlier this month he was convicted of flouting the terms of the bankruptcy.

Boris Becker arrived at Southwark Crown Court on Friday.
Boris Becker arrived at Southwark Crown Court on Friday. Picture: Alamy

The six-time grand slam champion will lose any interest he has in any other property or asset he has and is likely to be unable to get any work moving forward, said Becker's lawyer, Jonathan Laidlaw QC.

"This defendant has lost literally everything and he has already paid an extremely heavy price both for the mismanagement of his financial affairs, which of course he has nobody to blame but himself, but also for his offending," he said.

"Boris Becker has literally nothing and there is also nothing to show for what was the most glittering of sporting careers, and that is correctly termed as nothing short of a tragedy."

Mr Laidlaw said Becker, who after retirement coached current world number one Novak Djokovic, worked as a TV sports commentator, and acted as a brand ambassador for firms such as Puma, does not have a future.

"His fall is not simply a fall from grace but amounts to the most public humiliation for this man," he said.

"The degree of his suffering, and it will continue, is punishment that no other bankrupt in this country is likely to ever experience.

"These proceedings have destroyed his career entirely and ruined any further prospect of earning an income. His reputation is in tatters.

"He will not be able to find work and will have to rely on the charity of others if he is to survive."