Comment – Why Boris Becker’s fall from grace is one of the most tragic in tennis
Tennis takes those who reach the top of the game to breaking point, but few have fallen as far as Boris Becker.
In a sport built around one-on-one combat, so many who make the kind of breakthrough Becker manager when he won Wimbledon for the first time as a teenager in 1985 have struggled to deal with the scale of the fame that follows.
Back in his prime, Becker was more than a tennis star as his fame around the world took him to a level that he openly admitted was tough to deal with.
“I didn’t really understand what it all meant when I won Wimbledon back in 1985,” he told Tennis365 in an exclusive back in 2016.
“Sure, I knew I was good at this game but did I know I was ready to win Queens and Wimbledon? Of course not.
“When you win, everything changes. Everyone knows your name, you are on chat shows all over the world, you have your picture on the front of all the magazines and that is a new world. It is not easy to get used to.”
In so many ways, that instant success at the start of his career has led to his downfall now, after he was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail for hiding £2.5million worth of assets and loans to avoid paying his debts.
The former world number one, 54, was declared bankrupt on June 21st 2017, owing creditors almost £50m, over an unpaid loan of more than £3m on his estate in Mallorca, Spain.
It was a tale of financial trauma that pushed Becker to the brink, as he ultimately committed crimes that have led to his life being put on hold after he was told he would serve at least half of his jail term behind bars.
This is a sporting tragedy as well as a personal tragedy, with Becker’s presence in the tennis world still so prominent long after he hung up his rackets and struck his final shot on the game’s biggest stages.
Becker’s brand of explosive tennis helped to change the way the game evolved in the 1980s, with his power-packed serve and all-action style taking tennis from the wooded racket era into something very new.
Big-serving, powerful athletes replaced the elegant tacticians who had dominated the game before them and such was the impact of Becker and his ilk that tennis was forced to slow down the impact of big serve and powerful hitting by changing the dynamics of grass courts and Wimbledon and experimenting with alternative tennis balls.
Becker’s status as an idol for a generation was highlighted when World No 1 Novak Djokovic hired the German as his coach in 2014, with the duo enjoying great success in a partnership that came to an end two years later.
A respected commentator and pundit, Becker remained a prominent voice in tennis despite his financial problems, but all that has come to an end in brutal fashion now.
Many Tennis fans will lament the demise of a champion who has fallen from grace in a manner that was unimaginable when he was in his pomp on Wimbledon’s Centre Court.
Yet the champion who went by the name of ‘Boom Boom’ has now experienced the ultimate bust.
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