How Boris Becker plotted his most unlikely comeback yet with media

Declared bankrupt, endured eight months in prison and now deported from Britain: How ‘Boom Boom’ Boris Becker flew back to Germany in a private jet to plot his most unlikely comeback yet with a media tour detailing his stunning fall from grace

  • Boris Becker has been deported from the UK after being released from jail
  • The tennis star hid £2.5million-worth of assets and loans to avoid paying debts
  • An upcoming Apple TV+  show will explore Boris Becker’s life and tennis career 

For a man whose inimitable style on the tennis court was matched only by his colourful escapades off it, Boris Becker’s departure from British shores this week was, in some respects, remarkably low-key. 

Fellow ‘lags’ at HMP Huntercombe, a category C prison in Oxfordshire, had barely finished breakfast when prisoner A2923EV was ushered into the back of a Home Office prison van and sent on his way. No time for goodbyes.

He was a hidden figure behind blacked-out windows as the van travelled the 70-odd miles to the small Biggin Hill airfield, Kent. 

But once there, the departure of the man once nicknamed Boom Boom (owing to his rocket-propelled powers on court) took a diversion from the kind of exit more typically associated with the deportation of a criminal without British citizenship.

Declared bankrupt in 2017, Boris Becker was sentenced to two and a half years in prison in April this year for hiding £2.5 million in assets to avoid paying his debts, which amounted to an astronomical sum of almost £50 million. Pictured: Boris Becker and wife Lilian de Carvalho arriving at Southwark Crown Court for the sentencing

Because waiting for Becker was a private jet, purported variously to have been chartered either by a friend (he still has many) or as part of deal (said to be worth six figures) with a German television company, in exchange for the exclusive story of his time inside. Such is the dichotomy of Boris Becker, who as an unseeded 17-year-old sensation became Wimbledon’s youngest-ever male champion in 1985, chalking up some £20million in career winnings, and tens of millions more in lucrative deals.

 Then came his spectacular fall from grace. Declared bankrupt in 2017, he was sentenced to two and a half years in prison in April this year for hiding £2.5 million in assets to avoid paying his debts, which amounted to an astronomical sum of almost £50 million.

 Becker, 55, has yet to be seen in public since flying back to Germany on Thursday on the luxury Learjet 60. But that’s not to say he hasn’t been busy. 

 Famed for being as flamboyant off the court as on it, as he prepares to tell all about an experience his own lawyer described as ‘public humiliation’, could the most spectacular Becker bounce-back yet already be brewing? 

The 55-year-old tennis star, who won Wimbledon at the age of 17 along with six grand slams, said that he had hit his ‘bottom’ while awaiting to be sentenced earlier this year

The sportsman had barely set foot back inside his homeland before manoeuvres were taking place to set up his first post-prison interview, a schedule-clearing event to be broadcast on Tuesday evening in German and English. 

‘I am pleased Boris Becker is putting his trust in us for the first and only interview worldwide after what may have been the most difficult time in his life,’ heralded channel Sat.1’s editor-in-chief Julian Essling yesterday morning. It is sure to be gripping viewing. 

As a friend of the player says: ‘People are still fond of him, people will fall out with him but can’t help being won over by him. 

‘It was a shock when he went to prison and people genuinely don’t know what he is going to do now, but the feeling is he will probably start by trying to rehabilitate himself in the tennis world.’ 

Indeed, the Mail has learned his team are already ‘in dialogue’ with television bosses about his potential return to punditry, which could take in the Australian Open. That competition begins in January — a mere matter of weeks. 

Powerful supporters of Becker have also told the Mail of their desire to support him: Dirk Hordorff, the influential vice president of the German Tennis Federation (DTB), says the door is open to the sportsman, who served as Head of Men’s Tennis in Germany from 2017 to 2020. 

‘Boris has served his sentence and like everyone deserves a chance for a fresh start,’ he told me this week. 

It’s an almost breathtakingly quick turnaround in fortune. But what else would one expect for a star as mercurial and charismatic as Becker? 

First incarcerated at Wandsworth — a Category B jail — Becker was held on a wing for ‘vulnerable prisoners’, including paedophiles and policemen likely to face attack, before being moved to Huntercombe. 

Here, the Mail has learned, he helped deliver training to fellow prisoners in how to handle pressure, a subject on which he is well-versed.

 ‘It certainly wasn’t a cushy experience,’ says a source. ‘It’s not an open prison and certainly not all white collar criminals.’ 

Becker’s deportation eight months into his sentence came under a government scheme meaning any foreigner jailed for a year or more is considered for removal if it’s deemed ‘conducive to the public good’. 

With no further incarceration required, Becker is, in effect, a free man — albeit one whose finances are rather hampered. 

German courts have ordered that insolvency proceedings apply there too, meaning a n y income generated goes into the insolvency estate until such time as it is closed. 

That apart, Becker’s German lawyer Christian-Oliver Moser said on Thursday that the former tennis star had ‘served his sentence and is not subject to any penal restrictions in Germany’, all of which squarely puts Becker back courtside. Yet for all his natural ebullience, the words of Judge Deborah Taylor, recorder of Westminster, may still ring in his ears. ‘While I accept the humiliation you might have felt as a result of these proceedings, there has been no humility,’ she told him back in April. In PR terms, then, his first move will be to win over the hearts of his home nation.

Yet notably, he hasn’t lived in Germany for years. Becker has made his home London for more than a decade, although he never applied for British citizenship, which would have exempted him from deportation. 

As a result, as one German commentator told the Mail, he’s viewed by much of the younger generation as a ‘strange man’, doing ‘strange things’ in London with a life that is ‘out of control’.

Regardless, the first steps on the road to rehabilitation will have to take place in Germany: Becker is persona non grata in the UK for the foreseeable future.

Indeed, while the UK can’t impose any further conditions on him, he could still be banned from returning here for ten years, making a return to his role as a Wimbledon pundit for the BBC unlikely. If this happens, it would be a real blow to Becker, considering his youngest child Amadeus, 12, lives with his estranged wife Lilly, 46, in London, as do son Elias, 23, and daughter Anna Ermakova, 22 (who was born after Becker’s liaison with a Russian model at restaurant Nobu). 

Despite his vast debts, Becker has managed to cling on to a £1.8million seven-bedroom villa in Leimen, just a short drive from the picturesque city of Heidelberg, where his beloved mother Elvira, 87, still lives in a granny flat

Eldest son Noah, 28, meanwhile, lives in Berlin. Add to this the fact his devoted girlfriend Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro is also based in London and you can see why a friend tells the Mail: ‘It will hit him hard, he loves London so that will be a real blow to him.’

 Not that he is without strong ties to Germany, which he has already been quietly building. 

 While he’s known in the UK as a pundit at Wimbledon, Becker had also been a regular on the Eurosport commentary team, with his own show in Germany, Matchball Becker — which was renamed Matchball in his absence.

It is to this show that, the Mail has learnt, Becker’s team are negotiating a return, with a possible role offering expert analysis on the Australian Open — albeit taking place from Munich, not Down Under, as he won’t be allowed to travel.

 Meanwhile Mr Hordorff also told the Mail this week: ‘Of course, Boris is part of the German tennis family. I would be happy if he would bring his knowledge and expertise back to the German tennis federation.

 ‘Boris embodies the greatest successes for German tennis. Like many others, I rooted for him back then.’ 

Despite his vast debts, Becker has managed to cling on to a £1.8million seven-bedroom villa in Leimen, just a short drive from the picturesque city of Heidelberg, where his beloved mother Elvira, 87, still lives in a granny flat. He was forced to put the house on the market in 2020 in an attempt to clear his debts by the UK insolvency administrator.

However, prospective buyers were told that if they bought the house, they would have to allow his mother to continue living there until her death. 

The property, with views over the Rhine Valley, was then curiously taken off the market weeks later. Those who know Becker say a reunion with his mother will have been first on his priority list. 

While other family members saw him in prison, she had to cancel similar plans to visit because of her health. As her son’s release approached, a friend of the family said: ‘Elvira is simply overjoyed he is coming home.

‘She was worried about when she might see him again, so this is all a huge deal for her — especially given her age.’ A steadfast figure in her son’s life, she has been, perhaps, his greatest fan throughout his long career. 

‘My parents wanted me to study and do something serious, to be a doctor or lawyer. I remember when I won Wimbledon for the first time my father said it didn’t make it easier for him to win an argument about me spending more time in school,’ Becker once said. 

An upcoming Apple TV+ two-part show will explore Boris Becker’s life and tennis career

As Boom Boom Becker chalked up wins, the crowd embraced him. Post-retirement his popularity endured, but his financial and personal woes were just beginning. 

His marriage to his pregnant first wife, model and actress Barbara Feltus, was already floundering in 1999 when the sportsman headed off for a boozy night which led to ‘that’ incident with Russian model Angela Ermakova, resulting in the birth of his daughter, Anna. 

The encounter — which Becker denied took place in a broom cupboard and said occurred on stairs at Mayfair’s Nobu restaurant — ended his first marriage and led to an £11million divorce settlement. 

He also lost the £3million family home in Miami and had to make reported £19,000-amonth maintenance payments to his two sons. 

Poker, property, Nigerian oil and gas… you name it, he tried it. But off the court, Becker the businessman was not Becker the ace – smashing tennis star. 

He seemingly spent money as fast as he could make it, renting a house in Wimbledon for £22,000 a month — for a whole decade. 

Money troubles stalked him: there was a two-year suspended sentence for tax evasion and attempted tax evasion worth £1.4million in Germany in 2002.

In 2009 he married Dutch beauty Lilly Kerssenberg, with whom he had his youngest son.  

That marriage too crumbled, as did his ever-perilous finances, culminating in his appearance in the courts earlier this year.

That day he strode into court wearing his All England Club tie, membership of the prestigious club having being conferred after his first Grand Slam win. Whether he will be donning it again remains to be seen, as the Mail understands he has been stripped of his membership.

He allowed a documentary crew to film him in the days leading up to his imprisonment, and a first trailer for a two-part documentary to air on Apple TV+ was released on Wednesday, as Becker was readying to leave prison. 

In it, he can be seen being interviewed awaiting his sentence. ‘I’ve hit my [rock] bottom, I don’t know what to make of it,’ he says tearfully. ‘I face it, I’m not going to hide or run away. I accept whatever sentence I’m going to get. It’s Wednesday afternoon and [on] Friday I know the rest of my life.’ 

Becker remains enormously well-liked among his tennis peers, with John McEnroe declaring from Wimbledon this year, ‘Boris, we love you. We miss you, man.’

 McEnroe, Björn Borg and Novak Djokovic, who was coached by Becker between 2014 and 2016, are all said to appear in the documentary. Indeed, Djokovic welcomed Becker’s family into his box at Wimbledon this year.

But as Becker embarks on the biggest challenge of his career thus far, rebuilding his shattered reputation and finances, can he win back his fans? 

Peter Tiede, chief news editor of German tabloid Bild tells the Mail: ‘One of our fallen heroes is back. That he is now coming back to Germany can be a chance for him to get a grip on his life, to understand that he has to work, and to realise that there is not a new cash cow behind every corner which he can milk. 

‘He must now set up his living room in Germany. Boris must polish himself up, then he can become an icon again. We love fallen angels.’

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