Boris Becker

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Boris Becker
Country: Germany
Residence: Monte Carlo, MON
Height: 6'3" (190 cm)
Weight: 187 lbs. (85 kg)
Plays: Right
Turned pro: 1984
Retired: 1999
Highest singles ranking: 1 (1/28/1991)
Singles titles: 49
Career Prize Money: US$25,080,956
Grand Slam Record
Titles: 6
Australian Open W ('91, '96)
French Open SF ('87, '89, '91)
Wimbledon W ('85, '86, '89)
US Open W ('89)

Boris Franz Becker (b. November 22, 1967 in Leimen, Germany) is a former World No. 1 professional tennis player from Germany. He is a six-time Grand Slam champion, an Olympic Gold Medalist, and the youngest-ever winner of the men's singles title at Wimbledon. Since retiring from the professional tour, colorful aspects of his personal life have kept him in the headlines.


Tennis career

Becker is the only son of an architect who built the tennis center where Becker and another German tennis great, Steffi Graf, played against each other as children.

Becker turned professional in 1984, and won his first professional doubles title that year in Munich.

As a redheaded teenager in 1985, Becker took the tennis world by storm. He won his first top-level singles title in June that year at Queen's Club and then, two weeks later, become the first unseeded player and the youngest ever male player to win the Wimbledon singles title, defeating Kevin Curren in the final in four sets. At the time he was Wimbledon's first German champion, and the youngest ever male Grand Slam singles champion at 17 years, 7 months (a record broken four years later by Michael Chang who won the French Open when he was 17 years, 3 months). Becker's game was based on an all-action style and a huge serve that earned him the nickname "Boom Boom". His desire to throw himself at anything and everything with acrobatic diving volleys during his matches particularly endeared him to the crowds. His heavy forehand and powerful return of serve were also very significant factors in his game.

In 1986, Becker successfully defended his Wimbledon title, defeating Ivan Lendl (who was ranked World No. 1 at the time) in straight sets in the final. Becker unexpectedly lost in the second round of Wimbledon in 1987. But he was back in the final again 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.

1989 was possibly the pinnacle of Becker's career. He defeated Edberg in straight sets in the Wimbledon final, and then went on to beat Lendl in the final of the US Open. He also helped West Germany retain the Davis Cup. However the World No. 1 ranking still eluded him.

In 1990, Becker met Edberg for the third consecutive year in the Wimbledon final, losing in an epic five-set encounter.

Becker reached the final of the Australian Open for the first time in his career in 1991, where he defeated Lendl to finally claim the World No. 1 ranking. He would be ranked No. 1 for several weeks during 1991, though he never managed to finish a year ranked as the World's No. 1 player. Becker reached his fourth consecutive Wimbledon final in 1991, where he unexpectedly lost in straight sets to his German compatriot Michael Stich.

Becker and Stich teamed up in 1992 to win the men's doubles Gold Medal at the Olympic Games in Barcelona.

Becker reached the Wimbledon final for the seventh time in 1995, where he lost in four sets to Pete Sampras. His sixth and final Grand Slam title came in 1996, when he defeated Michael Chang in the final of the Australian Open.

Becker was most comfortable playing on fast-playing surfaces, particularly grass courts. He reached a few finals playing on clay courts, but never won clay court tournament in his professional career. His best performances at the French Open came in reaching the semi-finals in 1987, 1989, and 1991.

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 championship in 1988, 1992, and 1995, and at the Grand Slam Cup in 1996. He won a record-equalling four singles titles at London's Queen's Club. In the Davis Cup, his career win-loss record was 54-12, including an incredible 38-3 in singles mactches. 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 '98). Becker's career prize earnings totalled $25,080,956. In 2003, he was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, USA.

Becker now plays on the Senior ATP Tour. He remains a hugely popular figure at Wimbledon and commentates there for the BBC each year.

Grand Slam finals

Wins (6)

Year     Championship            Opponent in Final          Score in Final
1985     Wimbledon               Kevin Curren               6-3, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4
1986     Wimbledon               Ivan Lendl                 6-4, 6-3, 7-5
1989     Wimbledon               Stefan Edberg              6-0, 7-6, 6-4
1989     US Open                 Ivan Lendl                 7-6, 1-6, 6-3, 7-6
1991     Australian Open         Ivan Lendl                 1-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4
1996     Australian Open         Michael Chang              6-2, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2

Runner-ups (4)

Year     Championship            Opponent in Final          Score in Final
1988     Wimbledon               Stefan Edberg              4-6, 7-6, 6-4, 6-2 
1990     Wimbledon               Stefan Edberg              6-2, 6-2, 3-6, 3-6, 6-4 
1991     Wimbledon               Michael Stich              6-4, 7-6, 6-4 
1995     Wimbledon               Pete Sampras               6-7, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2

Personal life

On December 17, 1993, Becker married Barbara Feltus, the daughter of an African American serviceman and a white German woman. Before the marriage, they shocked the country by posing nude for the cover of Stern (the picture was taken by her father). After the shock of their coupling faded, Boris and Barbara became the model for a New Germany. Becker gained the respect of his countrymen for his stance against racism and intolerance.

However, all that changed when he asked Barbara for a separation. Becker claims he merely wanted some time out. But, she flew to Miami, Florida, USA, with their sons, Noah and Elias, and filed a petition in Miami-Dade County Court, sidestepping their prenuptial agreement, which had entitled her to a single $2.5 million payoff. The January 2001 pretrial hearing was broadcast live to Germany. Germans sided with "Babs" as her lawyer made Becker out to be a cad. He was granted a divorce on January 15, 2001; she got a $14.4 million settlement, their Florida condo, and custody of Noah and Elias.

His after-tennis life has been plagued by scandal. On February 8, 2001, DNA results forced him to admit paternity of a daughter, Anna (b. March 22, 2000), by Russian-African model Angela Ermakova. The child was conceived on the occasion of a quickie in the cupboard of the London restaurant Nobu after a drunken Becker fought with Barbara, who then left; Ermakova was a waitress there. He at first denied paternity, and his lawyers suggested that Ermakova was part of a blackmail plot devised by the Russian Mafia. In July 2001, he agreed to pay her $5 million.

He was convicted of tax evasion on October 24, 2002 when he admitted he lived in Germany from 1991-93 while claiming to reside in the tax haven of Monte Carlo. He was given two years' probation, fined $500,000, and ordered to pay all court costs.

In 2003 Becker published a tell-all autobiography, "Augenblick, verweile doch..." (English title: "The Player").

External links

Association of Tennis Professionals | World No. 1's in Men's tennis
Andre Agassi | Boris Becker | Björn Borg | Jimmy Connors | Jim Courier | Stefan Edberg | Roger Federer | Juan Carlos Ferrero | Lleyton Hewitt | Yevgeny Kafelnikov | Gustavo Kuerten | Ivan Lendl | John McEnroe | Carlos Moyà | Thomas Muster | Ilie Năstase | John Newcombe | Patrick Rafter | Marcelo Ríos | Andy Roddick | Marat Safin | Pete Sampras | Mats Wilander
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