Boris Becker’s Match Against The IRS: Love – Two


We all must pay taxes. We must hand our money away to the government year after year after year, and athletes are no different. Even though some of them think they are. Try as you may to duck and dodge the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), but they always get you in the end. ALWAYS. Oh, and another thing. If you file for bankruptcy, you better actually be bankrupt. Boris Becker had to learn that the hard way. For those of you who don’t watch tennis and are confused about the title. Love in tennis is zero. So instead of saying zero-fifteen, it’s love-fifteen. Kind of cute way of saying someone has no points. Actually, it’s more of a cute way saying someone sucks.

I don’t know much about Boris Becker; I was little when he played and had no interest in tennis. Much to my dad’s dismay. I know he had a rivalry with Stefan Edberg and that he played very well. If Pete Sampras wasn’t around him and Andre Agassi could have had quite the rivalry as well. He was at one point at the top of the sport and later in life he coached one of my personal favorites, Novak Djokovic. That’s honestly all I know about the guy. So that’s as far as my background knowledge stretched before researching him for this article. I learned that Boris Becker was most much more than your average tennis player. While he may have been smart on the court, off of it his choices were iffy. 

Boris Franz Becker (how awesome of a name is that?) was born in Leimen, West Germany on November 22, 1967, to Elvira and Karl-Heinz Becker. His dad, an architect, founded a tennis center in Leimen, where Becker learned how to play. He received his education at Helmholtz-Gymnasium in Heidelberg. That’s all I could find out his youth outside of the sport. I don’t know if this dude is trying to hide something but finding information about his life before tennis was like pulling teeth. So, onto his career. 

In 1974, Becker joined Blau Weib Leimen tennis club and started training under Boris Breskvar (yet, another kick ass name). By 1977, he was a membe

r of the junior team of the Baden Tennis Association and won the South German championship and the first German Youth Tennis Tournament. In 1978, he was selected for the German Tennis Federation’s top junior team by Richard Schonborn. According to Schonborn, the funding for Becker’s training was put up by the German Tennis Federation and cost over 1.3 million deutsche marks. In 1981 he made the Federation’s first men’s team. He went on to win the double at the Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships in 1982.

In 1984, Boris Becker turned profession, under the watchful eye of coach Gunther Bosch and manager Ion Triac. That same year he won his first professional doubles title in Munich. On July 7, 1985, Becker became the first unseeded player and the first German national to win the Wimbledon singles title, beating Kevin Curren in four sets. 

At the time of his win Becker was ranked 20th in ATP ranking. He became the youngest male Grand Slam singles champion at 17 years and 227 days old. In 1989. Michael Chang broke that record when he won the French Open at 17 years and 110 days old. Two months after Chang broke his record, Becker became the youngest winner of the Cincinnati Open. In 1986, Becker successfully defended his Wimbledon title, defeating number one ranked Ivan Lendl in straight sets. In 1987, Becker, who was ranked number 2, lost in the second round of Wimbledon to Peter Doohan, ranked number 70. Later that year John McEnroe and Boris Becker went against each other in the Davis Cup. It was one of the longest matches in tennis history, lasting 6 hours and 22 minutes. Imagine buying a ticket to that thing thinking you were sitting through a normal game and you end up being there for almost a whole work day. Shit, that would suck. 

Becker made it to 1988 Wimbledon final but ultimately fell to Stefan Edberg in the last four sets of the match. This started one of Wimbledon’s great rivalries. At the end of the year, he won the Masters title in New York City, defeating five-time champion Lendl. He also won the WCT Finals for the World Championship Tennis tour. In 1989, (what a fabulous year because that’s when yours truly graced the world with my presence), Boris won two Grand Slam singles titles, after losing to Edberg in the French Open, he beat Edberg to win Wimbledon, and Lendl to win the US Open. He helped West Germany retain the Davis Cup, after defeating Andre Agassi. He was named ATP Play of the Year. However, the number one ranking still eluded him. In 1990, Becker met Edberg for the third year in a row in the Wimbledon final, where he lost in a long five-set match. He failed to defend his US Open title, after losing to Agassi. In 1991, Becker reached the Australian Open for the first time in his career, he defeated Lendl to finally steal the number one ranking but again lost to Agassi.

Despite losing the first two Grand Slam tournaments of the year, Becker stayed at the number one ranking for twelve weeks. Though he would later move to number two around the time the 1991 Wimbledon final was played. He reached his fourth straight Wimbledon final but lost in straight sets to fellow German Michael Stich. The two developed a fierce rivalry, with the media often comparing Becker’s more passionate personality to Stich’s stoic one. 

Becker and Stich put their differences aside and teamed up in 1992, to win the men’s doubles gold medal at the Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. That same year Becker won seven tour titles including his second ATP Tour World Championships. In 1993, issues back home over his marriage to Barbara Feltus, whose mom was German and dad was African-American, and tax problems with the German government, had caused Becker to slip into an intense mid-career decline. As 1995 came around Boris had been in a continual decline, one that would span half a decade. That year he managed to reach the Wimbledon final for the seventh time. However, after suffering from fatigue due to grueling baseline contests with Cedric Pioline and then with Agassi, Becker lost the final in four sets to Pete Sampras.

He snagged the ATP Tour World Championships for the fourth time. Becker’s sixth and final Grand Slam title came in 1996 when he won the Australian Open. After taking home the Queen’s Club Championships for the fourth time, Becker was favored to put up a serious challenge for the Wimbledon title, but his bid ended abruptly when he injured his right wrist during a third-round match and was forced to withdraw. In October 1996, Becker beat Sampras in a five-set final in the Stuttgart Masters. Even though he lost Sampras had nothing but nice things to say about his fellow player; “Becker is the best indoor player I’ve ever played.” He later lost the ATP Tour World Championships to Sampras. At the end of the year Becker won the Grand Slam Cup. In 1997, Becker fell to Sampras in the Wimbledon quarterfinals. After that loss, he swore that he would never play at Wimbledon again. He didn’t keep true to his word and played Wimbledon one more time in 1999, losing in the fourth round to Patrick Rafter.

 

Boris Becker in 2019

Take a peek at this picture on the left. Is he getting ready to lick that cup? Should people have been concerned about that?

Boris Becker was most comfortable playing on what is deemed fast-playing surfaces, such as grass courts and indoor carpets. He reached a few finals on clay courts but never won a clay-court tournament. His best clay-court performances were when he reached the semifinals in 1987, 1989, and 1991 French Open. Becker won a total of forty-nine singles titles, fifteen doubles titles, and six Grand Slam titles. He was the singles winner of the Masters/ATP Tour World Championships in 1988, 1992, and 1995, the WCT Finals in 1988, and the Grand Slam Cup in 1996. He won a record-tying four singles titles at the London’s Queen’s Club and won two major international team titles playing for Germany, the 1995 Hopman Cup, and the 1989 and 1998 World Team Cup. He is the first male player in the Modern Era to play in seven Wimbledon finals. The record was later tied by Pete Sampras and Novak Djokovic. Roger Federer beat Becker’s record with twelve Wimbledon final appearances. Boris won singles titles in fourteen countries: Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Qatar, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and United States. He was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2003. He occasionally plays (or occasionally played) on the senior tour and in World Team Tennis. In the past, he worked as a commentator at Wimbledon for the BBC.

Becker’s game was based on a fast and well-placed serve. He would often “ace” (a legal serve that is not touched by the receiver, winning the point). His serving ability earned him the nicknames “Boom Boom”, “Der Bomber”, and “Baron von Slam”. He also dished out amazing volleying (a shot in which the ball is struck before it bounces on the ground) skills at the net, which included the diving volley that was later considered a trademark of Becker’s, and which endeared him to his fans. His strong forehand and return of serves were also significant factors in his game. Becker had frequent emotional outbursts on the court whenever he considered himself to be playing poorly. He often swore and occasionally smashed his rackets. Oh, so he was a little bit like John McEnroe? In 1987, he was hit with a $2,000 (about $5,089.95 today) after a series of outbursts during the Australian Open, which included him breaking three rackets, “twice throwing the ball offensively 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”. His highly dramatic play spawned expressions such as the Becker Blocker (his trademark early return shot), the Becker Hecht (a flying lunge), the Becker Faust (“Becker First”), the Becker Shuffle (the dance he sometimes performed after making important points), and Becker Sage (“Becker Saw” which referred to the way he pumped his fists in a sawing motion). Boris Becker continues to be considered one of the most effective players in his era.

In 2012, Becker talked about his approach to retirement. “I had won so much by 22, a number of Wimbledon titles, US Open, Davis Cup, Word number one. You look for the next big thing and that isn’t in tennis.” Since 2000, he has been the principal owner of the tennis division of Volkl Inc., a tennis racket and clothing manufacturer. In 2003, Becker released his autobiography, Augenblick, verwelie doch (The Player). From October 2005 to June 2006, he was a team captain on the British TV sports quiz show They Think It’s All Over. In May 2009, Becker announced the launch of the online media platform Boris Becker TV. The websites in both English and German features clips from his career and footage of his daily life. As of 2017, Boris Becker is an analyst on Fox Sports Australia’s Wimbledon magazine program The Daily Serve. After his tennis career, Becker had been on the economic advisory board of Bayern Munich for ten years.

Becker is a noted poker player and has played in the European Poker Tour and the World Poker Tour; by 2013 he had won more than €90,000 (roughly $95,733.45) in career earnings from poker. 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 left his commentating job with the BBC. In December 2016, the two parted ways. Over the three seasons they worked together, Becker contributed to Djokovic’s six Grand Slam titles and fourteen Masters 1000 titles. Djokovic also won the French Open in 2016, the only Grand Slam singles title that Becker never won himself.

Now that all of that is out of the way let’s talk about his tax issues. We can talk a little bit about his personal life as well, because why the hell not? Boris Becker had deliberately made false claims on his tax returns to save 3.3 million DM. In December 1996, a criminal investigation into his tax affairs began. At the start of his trial in 2002, Becker admitted that he lived in Munich between 1991 and 1993, even though he was officially registered in Monaco. He emphasized that he could not be accused of withholding income or engaging in criminal machinations. Becker also emphasized that he did not live in a classic apartment in Munich but in a spartan room (a plain room much like a hotel with no decorations). He was warned about buying the spartan room but ignored them. The court looked at the fact that Becker paid around 3 million Euros from 1991 to 1995 to help settle his tax debt as mitigating the penalty. The process took eight years and was a heavy burden on Becker. Well, BB you shouldn’t haven’t tried to cheat the system. We all have to pay taxes, dude! On October 24, 2002, Boris Becker was sentenced to two years in prison, the execution of which was suspended. Of course, it was. He also had to pay a fine of €300,000 and donate another €200,000 to various charitable institutions.

On June 21 2017, Becker was declared bankrupt by the Bankruptcy and Companies Court in London, England. The order came about when a 2015 debt owed to private bank Arbuthnot Latham for nearly $14 million was not paid in full by the assigned deadline, and there was no realistic expectation that it would be paid. Becket denied to the Neue Zurcher Zeitung that was “broke” or that he owed his former business adviser Hans-Dieter Cleven any money. Cleven filed a law suit in a Switzerland court claiming he was owed $41 million. In June 2018, Boris’ attorneys claimed their client had diplomatic immunity in the bankruptcy case. They owed his immunity to his appointment as the Central African Republic’s (CAR) “Attache for Sports/Humanitarian/Cultural Affairs in the European Union. The CAR’s Foeign Minister, Charles-Armel Doubane, countered that Becker was “not an official diplomat for the Central African Republic” and that the role of attache for sports “does not exist”, He also stated that the CAR passport produced by Becker was from a batch that had been stolen in 2014. Well, shit, the plot thickens! In September 2019, German businessman, Stephan Welk, was detained for possible fraud since he was the one who had given Becker the passport. Earlier that year, Smith & Williamson (a financial services company in the UK) announced that it had instructed its agent Wyles Hardy to auction off Becker’s trophies and memorabilia on July 11, 2019. On June 24th, before the auctions even started it was reported that Becker was forced to auction off 82 collectables from his personal collection, including a Goldene Kamera (A German film and television award) award and his 1989 trophy from the US Open, in order to pay creditors. The auction was held online and the sales of his memorabilia grossed £687,000 (roughly $856,585.95). Don’t yell at me if I’m wrong, I google all these conversions. I’m not that smart when it comes to math.  

On November 5, 2019, Becker’s bankruptcy restrictions were extended for an additional twelve years, until October 16, 2031, after Becker was found to have been hiding assets and transactions worth over £4.5 million (roughly $5,614,965.00). Does Boris know that in order to claim bankruptcy you can’t have a dime to your name? You have to be FLAT BROKE. He was charged with failing to hand over trophies in satisfaction of his debt during his bankruptcy and his trial began at Southwark Crown Court in London on March 21, 2022. On April 8th, Becker was found guilty of four charges under the Insolvency Act. On April 29, 2022, he was sentenced to thirty months in prison but is expected to serve half of the term. Big surprise there *eye roll*.  

I guess we will dip into his personal life a little bit. Cause that too is a messy mess. Becker was in a relationship with Karen Schultz from 1988 to 1991, and from 1991 to 1992 with Cassandra Hepburn. While in the relationship with Hepburn he started seeing Barbara Feltus, who he married on December 17, 1993, after the couple found out she was eight months pregnant. Their son Noah Gabriel was born on January 18, 1994. Their second child, Elias Balthasar, was born on September 4, 1999. Before the couple wed, they posed nude on the cover of Stern in a picture that was taken by Barbara’s dad. Weird much? In December 2000, Becker asked Feltus for a separation. She flew to Miami, Florida, with their two children and filed a divorce petition in Miami-Dade County Court to sidestep their prenuptial agreement, which entitled her to a one-time $2.5 million payoff. Feltus eventually left Florida after a woman got in touch with her and claimed to be pregnant with Becker’s child. Boris, you dippity do dog! Sorry, I just had to put that inside joke with my family in here. In his autobiography, Becker did write about a one-night stand he had with another woman while Barbara was pregnant with their second child. He claimed that Barbara hit him during an argument after he flew to Florida to meet her and talk about ending their marriage. In January 2001 the pretrial hearing was broadcast live in Germany. Becker was granted a divorce on January 15, 2001. Barbara received a $14.4 million settlement, their condo on Fisher Island, Florida, and custody of their children.

In February 2001, Boris Becker acknowledged that he had a daughter named Anna with Russian waitress Angel Ermakova after the media reported that he had a child as a result of a sexual encounter in 1999. Becker had allegedly been drinking at London’s Nobu restaurant after his loss in the 1999 Wimbledon Championship when the assault occurred. He initially denied the paternity of Ermakova’s daughter, claiming he only engaged in oral sex with her. His lawyers claimed that Ermakova had stolen his sperm and used it to inseminate herself after the encounter.

Um, I’m sorry, what? After he reversed his stance and accepted the fact that he was Anna’s dad, a DNA test confirmed it. In November 2007, he gained joint custody of Anna after expressing concerns over how Ermakova was raising her. In 2008, Becker had a brief engagement with Alessandra Meyer-Wolden, his former adviser and manager. The couple split in November 2008.

In February 2009, Becker announced on the German ZDF TV show Wetten, dass..?, that he was getting married to Dutch model Sharlely “Lilly” Kerssenberg. The couple wed on June 12, 2009, in St. Moritz, Switzerland. That August they announced that they were expecting their first child together. Their son, Amadeus Benedict Edley Luis Becker was born on February 10, 2010. First of all, how amazing of a name is Amadeus, so kick ass. Second of all, what an amazing day to be born. I’ve been told that only the most awesome people are born on February 10th. In May 2018 Becker and Kerssenberg announced that they had split after nine years of marriage. In July 2019, it was reported that Becker was dating British model Layla Powell. At the time of his 2022 conviction, he was in a relationship with Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro. Damn, this guy really gets around.

Well, that’s all I have about Boris Becks for you guys. This was a fun one for me. My dad loves tennis and I always enjoy learning about the players he used to watch. Becks could also rock the hell out of them hoochie daddy shorts. You know the short shorts guys used to wear? He had a nice set of legs. Becker has started serving his prison sentence and could be released in a few months around Christmas. Remember guys, always pay your taxes and only claim bankruptcy if you are absolutely broke. Toodles.

Sources:

“Boris Becker” – Wikipedia

“Boris Becker Jailed” – BBC

“Boris Becker” – ATP Tour “

Novak Djokovic Offers To Help Boris” – New York Post

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