Boris Becker - Controversy Finds The Wunderkind
Controversy Finds the Wunderkind
Having regained his championship status, Becker seemed to gain a newfound confidence. To replace Bosch he hired an unknown Australian named Bob Brett, saying he was not interested in finding another mentor or father figure. He also began speaking out more to the press about public issues, saying that the West German government was spending too much on armaments and not enough on the homeless, and saying that reunification with East Germany was progressing a little too quickly. Then in 1992 he declined to help Berlin in its bid for the 2000 Olympics, saying he feared it might revive his fellow citizen's fantasies about a master race. German fans were sometimes stunned at the views of the man who had waved the German flag at the Davis Cup and had been marketed as a clean-cut, patriotic German youth.
In another area of his life, the controversy turned truly ugly. Since Courtin, Becker had been linked with a number of women, including Olympic skater Katarina Witt. But in 1991 he met and fell in love with Barbara Feltus, a beautiful German-American model who also happened to be black. Hate mail and ugly taunts from neo-Nazis sometimes forced the couple to flee Germany and hide out in Monaco. "Sometimes within 15 minutes I am someone who cannot get served because I'm black," Feltus told a German reporter. "The next minute I'm Frau Becker, treated like a queen. Sometimes, I find both awful." When the couple appeared nude on the cover of Stern magazine, as a protest against racism, many in the staid German public were appalled. Despite these pressures, the couple married on December 17, 1993. Together they have two sons, Noah Gabriel, born in 1994, and Elias Balthasar, born in 1999.
While Becker was finding love off the court, his career on it was suffering. "After '91 I was tired of tennis," Becker acknowledged to a Sports Illustrated reporter in 1993. "I was tired of all the straining and the doing. I had all the success I wanted." The tiredness showed, and in 1992 he'd slipped to a number 10 ranking before rallying at the end of the year. He did rally enough to win the Australian Open and to take a gold medal in doubles tennis at the 1992 Olympics, with an old rival, Michael Stitch. But after 1991 Grand Slam tournament titles continually eluded him, and in 1997, after losing a quarterfinal match at Wimbledon, he announced that he was retiring from tournament competition. "I feel very relieved," he said. "I had a great run here. I won a number of Grand Slams … and now that I've made my decision, I feel very comfortable." Two years, later he retired from professional tennis altogether.