Tennis-From ‘Boom Boom’ to collapse, Becker must now serve his sentence

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LONDON — Boris Becker’s thunderous performance earned him the nickname ‘Boom Boom’ as the 17-year-old Wimbledon winner in 1985, but on Friday, aged 54 and bust, the German great was told that he was to serve a prison sentence.

A three-time champion on the grass courts in south-west London, the man who thrilled tennis fans in the 1980s and 1990s has appeared in court to receive a two-and-a-half-year sentence.

Becker was found guilty earlier this month of four counts under UK insolvency law, including failing to disclose, conceal and dispose of substantial assets following a bankruptcy trial .

Judge Deborah Taylor said the six-time Grand Slam winner had shown no remorse or accepted his guilt and should serve half his sentence behind bars and the rest on licence.

Becker, who won $25 million in prize money and more in sponsorships during a career that ended in 1999, had been given a suspended prison sentence and a heavy fine for tax evasion by a Munich court in 2002.

This time, there was to be no escape.

The sentencing was the latest bombshell in the life of a sports superstar whose love life and financial troubles have grabbed headlines in recent years as much as his athletic prowess ever has.

Much of his fortune disappeared due to his tax troubles, while continuing to maintain a lavish lifestyle, questionable investments and a multimillion-dollar divorce settlement with his first wife Barbara in 2001.

In 1999, he fathered a child with a Russian model, Angela Ermakova, after briefly having sex at London’s Nobu restaurant while his wife was pregnant with their second child.

The polish of his after-game life as a BBC television tennis commentator and a stint as the coach of world number one Novak Djokovic contrasted with the continued chaos of his personal affairs.

In 2018, he claimed diplomatic immunity from bankruptcy proceedings saying he had been appointed European Union sports envoy for the Central African Republic and received a passport at a ceremony. official.

Becker had never visited the country, whose passport the Foreign Secretary later said was a “clumsy forgery” and launched an investigation.

On the court, Becker was nothing short of sensational. In 1985, he became the first German and first unranked player to win the Wimbledon singles title, beating American-turned-South African Kevin Curren in four sets as a teenager.

In 1986, with bubbling enthusiasm and making good use of his powerful forehand and spectacular diving volleys, Becker successfully defended his title against sullen rival Ivan Lendl.

The pair played 21 times in the 1980s and early 90s, always with an undercurrent of friction.

While Lendl eventually edged their career rivalry 11-10, it was Becker who won all three Grand Slam finals they contested, with the German once accusing Lendl of not being “mentally strong”.

Becker also reached the Wimbledon final in 1988, losing to Sweden’s Stefan Edberg. He avenged that loss in a rematch the following year and then lost again to the Swede in the 1990 final.

In 1991 he reached a fourth consecutive Wimbledon final but lost to fellow countryman Michael Stich.

Becker also won the US Open in 1989 and the Australian Open in 1991, when he became world number one, and 1996.

He retired with a total of 49 singles titles and 15 doubles titles, but clay was always a weakness despite winning the 1992 men’s doubles Olympic gold on the surface in Barcelona.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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