Boris Franz Becker (German pronunciation: [ˈboːʁɪs ˈbɛkɐ]; born 22 November 1967) is a German former world No. 1 professional tennis player. He was successful from the start of his career, winning the first of his six major singles titles at age 17. His Grand Slam singles titles included three Wimbledons, two Australian Opens and one US Open. He also won five year-end championships, 13 Masters Series titles and an Olympic gold medal in doubles. In 1989 he was voted the Player of the Year by both the ATP and the ITF.
Becker in 2019
|Full name||Boris Franz Becker|
|Born||22 November 1967|
Leimen, West Germany
|Height||6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)|
|Turned pro||1984 (amateur tour from 1983)|
|Retired||25 June 1999|
|Plays||Right-handed (one-handed backhand)|
Mike Depalmer Jr.
|Int. Tennis HoF||2003 (member page)|
|Career record||713–214 (76.9%)|
|Highest ranking||No. 1 (28 January 1991)|
|Grand Slam Singles results|
|Australian Open||W (1991, 1996)|
|French Open||SF (1987, 1989, 1991)|
|Wimbledon||W (1985, 1986, 1989)|
|US Open||W (1989)|
|Tour Finals||W (1988, 1992, 1995)|
|Grand Slam Cup||W (1996)|
|WCT Finals||W (1988)|
|Olympic Games||3R (1992)|
|Highest ranking||No. 6 (22 September 1986)|
|Grand Slam Doubles results|
|Australian Open||QF (1985)|
|Other doubles tournaments|
|Olympic Games||W (1992)|
|Davis Cup||W (1988, 1989)|
|Hopman Cup||W (1995 with Anke Huber)|
|Coaching career (2013–2016)|
|Coachee Singles Titles total||24|
|List of notable tournaments|
At times Becker struggled with his early success and fame, and his personal life has been turbulent. Since his playing career ended, he has engaged in numerous ventures, including coaching Novak Djokovic for three years, and working in the field of poker.
Boris Becker was born in Leimen, a town in the German State Baden-Württemberg, as son of Elvira and Karl-Heinz Becker. His mother was Catholic, and they raised him as a Catholic. His father Karl-Heinz, an architect, founded a tennis centre in Leimen, where Becker learned the game. Becker received his secondary education at Helmholtz-Gymnasium in Heidelberg.
In 1974, Becker joined TC Blau-Weiß Leimen tennis club and began training under Boris Breskvar. By 1977, he was a member of the junior team of the Baden Tennis Association. He went on to win the South German championship and the first German Youth Tennis Tournament.
In 1978, he was chosen for the German Tennis Federation’s top junior team by Richard Schönborn. According to Schönborn, the funding for Becker’s training was put up by the German Tennis Federation at an expense of over 1.3 million DM. In 1981, he was included in the Federation’s first men's team. In 1982, he won the doubles at the Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships.
Becker turned professional in 1984, under the guidance of Romanian-born coach Günther Bosch and Romanian manager Ion Ţiriac, and won his first professional doubles title that year in Munich. As a German teenager, Becker won the Tennis World Young Masters at the NEC in Birmingham in 1985, before taking his first top-level singles title in June that year at Queen's Club. Two weeks later, on 7 July, he became the first unseeded player and the first German to win the Wimbledon singles title, defeating Kevin Curren in four sets. Becker was at that time ranked 20th in ATP ranking, and was unseeded, as at that time Wimbledon did not seed players beyond the top 16. He was the youngest ever male Grand Slam singles champion at 17 years, 227 days (a record later broken by Michael Chang in 1989, who won the French Open when he was 17 years, 110 days). Two months after his triumph, Becker became the youngest winner of the Cincinnati Open. Becker has since said that "The plan from my parents for me was to finish school, go to university, get a proper degree and learn something respectful. The last thing on everyone's mind was me becoming a tennis professional."
In 1986, Becker successfully defended his Wimbledon title, defeating No. 1 Ivan Lendl in straight sets in the final. In 1987 Becker, then ranked No. 2, was upset in the second round of Wimbledon by No. 70 Peter Doohan. In the Davis Cup that year, Becker and John McEnroe played one of the longest matches in tennis history. Becker won 4–6, 15–13, 8–10, 6–2, 6–2 (at that time, there were no tiebreaks in the Davis Cup). The match lasted 6 hours and 22 minutes.
Becker was back in the Wimbledon final in 1988, where he lost in four sets to Stefan Edberg in a match that marked the start of one of Wimbledon's great rivalries. Becker also helped West Germany win its first Davis Cup in 1988. He won the year-end Masters title in New York City, defeating five-time champion Lendl in the final. The same year he also won season ending WCT Finals for the rival World Championship Tennis tour, defeating Edberg in four sets.
In 1989, Becker won two Grand Slam singles titles, the only year he won more than one. After losing to Edberg in the French Open semifinals, he defeated Edberg in the Wimbledon final, and then beat Lendl in the US Open final. He also helped West Germany retain the Davis Cup, defeating Andre Agassi in the semifinal round. As a result, Becker was named Player of The Year by the ATP Tour. The No. 1 ranking, however, still eluded him.
In 1990, Becker met Edberg for the third consecutive year in the Wimbledon final, but this time was on the losing end of a long five-set match. He also unsuccessfully defended his US Open title, losing to Agassi in the semifinals. Becker reached the final of the Australian Open for the first time in his career in 1991, where he defeated Lendl to claim the No. 1 ranking. Another loss to Agassi in the French Open semifinals kept him from winning the first two Grand Slam tournaments of the year. He was ranked No. 1 for 12 weeks during 1991, though he never managed to finish a year with that ranking. Becker was ranked No. 2 during Wimbledon in 1991 and reached his fourth consecutive final there. However, he lost in straight sets to fellow German compatriot and No. 7 Michael Stich. Becker and Stich developed a fierce rivalry, with the media often comparing a passionate Becker to a more stoic Stich. However, Becker and Stich teamed up in 1992 to win the men's doubles gold medal at the Olympic Games in Barcelona.
By 1993, issues back home over his courtship of and marriage to Barbara Feltus, whose mother was German and father was African-American, and tax problems with the German government, had caused Becker to slide into a severe mid-career decline.
By 1995 Becker had been in continual decline for half a decade. That year though, Becker reached the Wimbledon final for the seventh time, by defeating Agassi in the semifinals. In the final however, Becker, further fatigued after grueling baseline contests with Cédric Pioline and then with Agassi, lost in four sets to Pete Sampras. He won the year-end ATP Tour World Championships for the third and last time in Frankfurt with a straight-set win over Michael Chang in the final. Becker's sixth and final Grand Slam title came in 1996 when he defeated Chang in the final of the Australian Open. After winning the Queen's Club Championships for the fourth time, Becker was widely expected to mount a serious challenge for the Wimbledon title in 1996, but his bid ended abruptly when he damaged his right wrist during a third-round match against Neville Godwin and was forced to withdraw.
Becker defeated Sampras in October 1996 in a five-set final in Stuttgart. "Becker is the best indoor player I've ever played", said Sampras after the match. Becker lost to Sampras in the final of the 1996 ATP Tour World Championships in Hanover. Becker saved two match points in the fourth set and held serve 27 consecutive times until he was broken in the penultimate game. Later that year he won the Grand Slam Cup defeating Goran Ivanisevic in the final. In 1997, Becker lost to Sampras in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. After that match, he vowed that he would never play at Wimbledon again. However, Becker played Wimbledon one more time in 1999, this time losing in the fourth round to Patrick Rafter.
Becker was most comfortable playing on fast-playing surfaces, particularly grass courts and indoor carpet (on which he won 26 titles). He reached a few finals playing on clay courts, but never won a clay-court tournament in his professional career. His best performances at the French Open were when he reached the semifinals in 1987, 1989, and 1991. Becker was close to winning a clay court tournament in his last final on the surface, when he led Thomas Muster by two sets to love in the 1995 Monte Carlo Open final, and double-faulted on match point in the fourth-set tiebreaker.
Over the course of his career, Becker won 49 singles titles and 15 doubles titles. Besides his six Grand Slam titles, he was also a singles winner in the year-end Masters / ATP Tour World Championships in 1988, 1992, and 1995, the WCT Finals in 1988 and at the Grand Slam Cup in 1996. He won a record-equalling four singles titles at London's Queen's Club. In Davis Cup, his career win-loss record was 54–12, including 38–3 in singles. He also won the other two major international team titles playing for Germany, the Hopman Cup (in 1995) and the World Team Cup (in 1989 and 1998). He is the first male player to appear in 7 Wimbledon finals, tied with Sampras (7) and behind record 11 Wimbledon finals appearances by Federer.
Becker won singles titles in 14 different countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Qatar, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States. In 2003, he was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. He occasionally plays on the senior tour and in World Team Tennis. He is also sometimes a commentator at Wimbledon for the BBC.
Becker's game was based on a fast and well-placed serve, that earned him the nicknames "Boom Boom", "Der Bomber" and "Baron von Slam", and great volleying skills at the net. He could supplement his pure serve-and-volley game with brilliant athleticism at the net, which included the diving volley that was considered a trademark of the young German, and which endeared him to his fans. His heavy forehand and return of serve were also very significant factors in his game.
Becker occasionally deviated from his serve-and-volley style to try to out-hit, from the baseline, opponents who normally were at their best while remaining near the baseline. Even though Becker possessed powerful shots from both wings, this strategy was often criticized by commentators.
Becker had frequent emotional outbursts on court. Whenever he considered himself to be playing badly, he often swore at himself and occasionally smashed his rackets. In 1987, he was fined $2000 following a series of outbursts during the Australian Open in Melbourne, including breaking three rackets, "twice throwing the ball in an offensive manner at the umpire, hitting the umpire's chair on one occasion, spitting water in the direction of the umpire, and hitting three balls out of the court." Becker's highly dramatic play spawned new expressions such as the Becker Blocker (his trademark early return shot), the Becker Hecht (a flying lunge), the Becker Faust ("Becker Fist"), the Becker Shuffle (the dance he sometimes performed after making important points), and Becker Säge ("Becker Saw" – referring to the way in which he pumped his fists in a sawing motion).
Becker, one of the most effective players in his era on grass courts and carpet courts, had less success on clay. He never won a top-level singles title on clay, coming closest when holding two match points against Thomas Muster in the final of the 1995 Monte Carlo Open. Becker did, however, team up with Michael Stich to win the 1992 men's doubles Olympic gold medal on clay.
Becker played most of his career with racquets from the German company Puma. After production of this racquet was discontinued, he bought the moulds and had them produced by the American company Estusa. He now has his own personal line of racquets and apparel.
Singles performance timeline
|Grand Slam tournaments|
|Australian Open||A||QF||2R||NH||4R||A||4R||QF||W||3R||1R||A||1R||W||1R||A||A||2 / 11||29–9||76.32|
|French Open||A||A||2R||QF||SF||4R||SF||1R||SF||A||2R||A||3R||A||A||A||A||0 / 9||26–9||74.29|
|Wimbledon||A||3R||W||W||2R||F||W||F||F||QF||SF||SF||F||3R||QF||A||4R||3 / 15||71–12||85.54|
|US Open||A||A||4R||SF||4R||2R||W||SF||3R||4R||4R||1R||SF||A||A||A||A||1 / 11||37–10||78.72|
|Win–Loss||0–0||6–2||11–3||16–2||11–4||10–3||22–2||15–4||20–3||9–3||9–4||5–2||13–4||9–1||4–2||0–0||3–1||6 / 46||163–40||80.30|
|Tennis Masters Cup||DNQ||F||F||RR||W||F||SF||RR||W||DNQ||F||W||F||Did Not Qualify||3 / 11||36–13||73.47|
|WCT Finals||Did Not Qualify||F||A||W||A||Discontinued||1 / 2||5–1||83.33|
|Grand Slam Cup||Not Held||A||A||A||1R||QF||SF||W||1R||DNQ||1 / 5||7–4||63.64|
|Win–Loss||0–0||0–0||3–1||6–2||1–2||7–1||4–1||3–1||2–1||4–1||0–1||5–2||6–2||7–2||0–1||0–0||0–0||5 / 18||48–18||72.73|
- These records were attained in Open Era of tennis.
- Records in bold indicate peer-less achievements.
- ^ Denotes consecutive streak.
|Championship||Years||Record accomplished||Player tied|
|Wimbledon||1985||Youngest Wimbledon singles champion||Stands alone|
|1985||Unseeded winner of singles title||Goran Ivanišević|
|ATP Tour||1987–99||10 match wins after trailing 0–2 in sets||Aaron Krickstein|
|1986||3 titles in three weeks across three continents||Stands alone|
|ATP Championship series||1990||4 titles won in a single season||Juan Martín del Potro|
|Stockholm Open||1988, 1990–1991, 1994||4 singles titles||John McEnroe|
Place in history
Tennis magazine ranked Becker the 11th best male player of the period 1965–2005.
In 2012, Becker described his approach to retirement. "I had won so much by 22, a number of Wimbledon titles, US Open, Davis Cup, World number one. You look for the next big thing and that isn't in tennis." Since 2000, Becker has been the principal owner of the tennis division of Völkl Inc., a tennis racquet and clothing manufacturer. Becker published his autobiography, Augenblick, verweile doch... (en: The Player) in 2003. From October 2005 to June 2006, Becker was a team captain on the British TV sports quiz show They Think It's All Over.
Becker is a patron of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
From November 2007 to mid-May 2013, Becker was a member of the celebrity team for the online poker platform PokerStars, where he participated in professional poker tournaments. Becker made his first appearance as a poker amateur at a tournament in Monte Carlo in April 2008. In mid-April, he reached the Main Event of the World Poker Tour at the Bellagio and finished the tournament in 40th place, winning more than $40,000 in prize money. In August 2011, he came 97th at the European Poker Tour in Barcelona, winning 8000 euros. In April 2013 he again took part in the EPT Main Event, this time in Berlin, coming 49th with a win of 15,000 euros. Overall, Becker has made tournament earnings of over $100,000 and ranks 132,133rd in the Global Poker Index. He has become an ambassador for the partypoker online poker platform, playing under the nickname Boris__Becker.
Coaching Novak Djokovic
In December 2013, Novak Djokovic announced on his website that Boris Becker would become his head coach for the 2014 season. As a result, Becker gave up his commentating job with the BBC. In December 2016, Djokovic and Becker parted ways. Over the three seasons they worked together, Becker contributed to Djokovic's six grand slam titles and fourteen Masters 1000 titles.
As of 2017, Becker is also an analyst on Fox Sports Australia's Wimbledon magazine program The Daily Serve.
On 21 June 2017, Becker was declared bankrupt by the Bankruptcy and Companies Court. The order arose when a 2015 debt owed to private bank Arbuthnot Latham for nearly $14 million was not paid in full before an assigned deadline, and there was no realistic expectation that it would be paid. Becker denied to the Neue Zürcher Zeitung that he is "broke" or that he owes former business adviser Hans-Dieter Cleven any money; Cleven filed suit in a Switzerland court claiming he is owed $41 million.
In June 2018, Becker's lawyers claimed their client had diplomatic immunity in the bankruptcy case due to his appointment as the Central African Republic's (CAR) "Attache for Sports/Humanitarian/Cultural Affairs in the European Union." Charles-Armel Doubane, the CAR's Foreign Minister, countered that Becker was "not an official diplomat for the Central African Republic", that the role of attache for sports "does not exist", and that the CAR passport produced by Becker was one of a batch that had been stolen in 2014. In September 2019, the German businessman Stephan Welk who provided the passport was detained for possible fraud.
On May 21, 2019, Smith & Williamson announced that it has instructed its agent Wyles Hardy to auction Becker's trophies and memorabilia on July 11, 2019.
On 24 June 2019, media reported that Becker was forced to auction off 82 collectables from his personal collection, including a Goldene Kamera award and his trophy from the 1989 US Open, in order to pay out creditors.
After Becker lost to Peter Doohan in the second round of the 1987 Wimbledon Championships, it was rumoured that he had been too distracted by his girlfriend, Benedicte Courtin, the daughter of the Chief of Police of Monaco. As a result, the British tabloids dubbed him "Bonking Boris".
On 17 December 1993, Becker married Barbara Feltus, then eight months pregnant, at the registry office of his hometown of Leimen. On 18 January 1994, their son Noah Gabriel, named after Becker's friends Yannick Noah and Peter Gabriel, was born. Their second child, Elias Balthasar, was born on 4 September 1999. Before the marriage, they shocked some in Germany by posing nude for the cover of Stern in a picture taken by her father.
After Becker asked Barbara for a separation in December 2000, she flew to Miami, Florida, with Noah and Elias and filed a divorce petition in Miami-Dade County Court, sidestepping their prenuptial agreement which had entitled her to a single $2.5 million payoff. Barbara left for Florida after being contacted by a woman claiming to be pregnant with Becker's child. In his autobiography, Becker stated that he admitted to his wife that he had a one-night stand with another woman while Barbara was pregnant with their second child. He wrote that Barbara struck him during an argument that occurred after he flew to Florida to meet with her and discuss the break up of their marriage. The pretrial hearing in January 2001 was broadcast live to Germany. When Becker testified, Barbara's lawyers, for whom he was paying, made him out to be a cad. Incredibly, the couple had dinner every night during the hearing. Becker was granted a divorce on 15 January 2001: Barbara received a $14.4 million settlement, their condominium on exclusive Fisher Island, Florida, and custody of their children.
In February 2001, Becker acknowledged paternity of a daughter, Anna, with Russian waitress Angela Ermakova, after media reported that he had a child as a result of a sexual encounter in 1999. The episode allegedly took place at London's Nobu restaurant. He had allegedly been drinking following his loss to Pat Rafter in the fourth round of the 1999 Wimbledon Championships. Becker initially denied paternity, claiming he only had oral sex with Ermakova. Subsequently, he reversed his stance and accepted fatherhood. Some time after that, a DNA test confirmed he was the father. In November 2007, he obtained joint custody of Anna after expressing concerns over how Ermakova was raising her.
Becker was briefly engaged to Alessandra Meyer-Wölden in 2008. Her father, Axel Meyer-Wölden, was Becker's former adviser and manager. The couple broke up in November 2008. She later married TV-personality Oliver Pocher.
In February 2009, on the German ZDF TV show Wetten, dass..?, Becker announced that he and Dutch model Sharlely "Lilly" Kerssenberg were to be married on 12 June 2009 in St Moritz, Switzerland. In August they announced that they were expecting a child. Their son, Amadeus Benedict Edley Luis Becker, was born in London on 10 February 2010. The child is named after Becker's wife's uncle Edley, and his friend, Mexican-Cuban millionaire Luis Garcia Fanjul, who is also the child's godfather. In May 2018, Lilly and Becker announced that they had separated after nine years of marriage.
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