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Boris Becker - Controversy Finds The Wunderkind

Famous Sports StarsTennisBoris Becker Biography - Young Champion, Ups And Downs, Controversy Finds The Wunderkind, Chronology, Awards And Accomplishments

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.

Chronology

1967 Born November 22, in Liemen, West Germany
1975 Begins playing competitive tennis
1976 Begins training with Gunther Bosch
1984 Begins working with Ion Tiriac
1984 Enters Wimbledon competition for first time; leaves due to injury
1985 Becomes youngest player to win Wimbledon championship
1986 Wins Wimbledon again
1987 Fires Gunther Bosch
1988 Helps win West Germany's first Davis Cup victory
1989 Reclaims Wimbledon title; hires Bob Brett as new trainer
1991 Begins dating Barbara Feltus
1993 Marries Barbara Feltus, December 17
1994 Son, Noah Gabriel, born
1997 Retires from Grand Slam tournament competition
1999 Retires from professional tennis
1999 Son, Elias Balthasar, born
1999 Father dies
1999 Russian model gives birth to Anna, illegitimate daughter of Boris Becker; subsequent paternity test proves he is the father
2000 In December, separates from wife, Barbara Feltus; later files for divorce
2002 Is convicted of tax evasion, given two-year suspended sentence, in October

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.

Awards and Accomplishments

1984, 1986, 1990 Quarterfinals, Australian Open
1985-86, 1989 First place, Wimbledon
1986, 1990 Semifinals, U.S. Open
1987, 1989, 1991 Semifinals, French Open
1988-89 Co-victor, Davis Cup
1988, 1990-91 Finals, Wimbledon
1989 Finals, U.S. Open
1989 Awarded title of World Champion, International Tennis Federation
1991 First place, Australian Open
1991 Semifinals, French Open
1991 Finals, Wimbledon
1992 Quarterfinals, Wimbledon
1992 Gold medal, Barcelona Olympics (with Michael Stitch)
1993-94 Semifinals, Wimbledon

Where Is He Now?

The new millennium has not been very kind to Boris Becker. In late 2000, his marriage fell apart in a very public way, just as Germans had grown to accept, and even admire it. After the outcry in the late 1990s, Boris and Barbara had emerged as a glamour couple, a visible symbol of tolerance and racial accord in a country sometimes plagued by racist violence. But in November of 2000, Becker told his wife he wanted a separation. A week later, she flew to Miami, where she filed for custody of the children and a generous financial settlement. The reason was a Russian model by the name of Angela Ermakova who claimed to have given birth to Becker's daughter, named Anna, a charge soon confirmed by a paternity test. Then in 2002, Becker was convicted of tax evasion for keeping an apartment in Munich while claiming exclusive residence in the tax haven of Monaco. He was given a suspended sentence of two years, and a fine of 500,000 euros, which left him a free man, but with a criminal record.

It was a bleak moment for the man who'd burst onto the scene as a 17-year-old with a winning smile and composure well beyond his years. Friends said that for the first time, Becker had been able to live the high life, after retiring from tennis, and that he was going through a kind of delayed adolescence. While it was clearly a darker side to Becker, some would always remember the bright lad who showed up the giants at Wimbledon when he was only 17. Even now, he remains the most famous sports name in Germany—a hero in a country that often was short on them.

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.

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