Introducing…is The Local's guide to the fabulous world of German celebrity. Know all there is about tennis legend and public lothario Boris Becker? Meet the man who is as famous in Germany for his turbulent love life as his boom-boom backhand.
Becker married his Dutch girlfriend Lilly Kerssenberg in St. Moritz on Friday, but Germany was only invited to his nuptials on Sunday. That’s when 4.6 million viewers tuned into RTL television’s exclusive coverage of the former Wimbledon winner’s second marriage. After finishing his career on the court, Boris has managed to turn his very public love life into his second occupation - much to the equal glee and chagrin of Germany.
Boom-Boom Becker? Handy with a tennis racquet, but cursed with messy ginger hair, right?
Correct! Boris burst on to the tennis scene and the wider world’s attention by becoming the youngest ever Wimbledon men’s singles tennis champion in 1985. At that time he was only 17. Over the course of his career, he went on to become the world No.1. Amongst his 49 trophies, he garnered a total of six Grand Slam titles, an Olympic Gold medal and helped Germany to its first Davis Cup victory.
Yeah, it’s the stuff of legend, if only for those short shorts. So what’s there left to say?
Well, even though sports fans would probably disagree, the post-tennis life of “Bobbele” (another one of his bizarre nicknames) has been even more entertaining than his illustrious sporting achievements. A series of high-profile disgraces have seen him slip from being the darling of the German sport pages to making much less appealing headlines in the tabloids. The latest chapter finds the German public being presented with “Boris-Becker TV,” his very own reality show.
Becker’s doing reality TV? Searching for the new teenage tennis sensation no doubt!
No, no. Slow down. Apart from a few stints as a Wimbledon commentator for the BBC Boris has pretty much left the world of serve and volley behind him. Since then the double faults in his personal life have meant Boris has spent far more time in a different kind of court in recent years.
Oh dear I smell lawyers, come on then what happened?
Well, things seemed to be going great for a while. The bulging trophy cabinet meant there was money in the bank and in 1993 he married Barbara Feltus, the daughter of an African American serviceman and a white German woman. The mixed-race marriage along with his outspoken stance against racism saw Boris widely hailed at home and abroad as a shining example of the newly tolerant Germany.
Ok! This all sounds fine to me. What’s the problem? You can’t take someone to court for being a model citizen can you?
Surely not! But the good times weren’t to last. After a three year investigation Boris in 2000 was confronted with serious tax-evasion charges. He claimed he was living in Monaco when he’d actually been spending most of his time back in Germany.
No way! Did he go to jail?
Of course not. It’s one of the most famous tennis players in the world we are talking about here. Boris dug his heels in and strongly denied any wrongdoing. He claimed his pad in Germany was only a loft in his sister’s house and that he only “barely understood German tax laws” anyway. But that plea fell on deaf ears and he was found guilty. Somehow he managed to dodge the three-and-a-half-year prison term the prosecutors were pressing for, but he was eventually sentenced to two years probation and a fine of $500,000. Oh, and he also had to cough up the $4.6 million in back taxes in 2002.
Jeez, how did they nab him in the end?
Ironically, key aspects of the prosecution’s case were built upon some 210 scrap books of Hans Gerd, Boris’ supposedly “number one fan.” In an almost unbelievable display of Teutonic thoroughness, Hans had kept detailed day to day records of Boris’ whereabouts for years. And unfortunately for “Bobbele,” that included his comings and goings between Germany and the French Riviera.
Curious. I thought stalkers just go through your rubbish and write you bad poetry?
It seems German ones are different. Anyway, from there on things just got worse. With the threat of possible bankruptcy hanging over his head, Boris just got himself into more trouble. Instead of keeping his head down, he was caught up in one of the most bizarre paternity cases seen in the media for a long time.
After a public fight with his wife at London’s posh Japanese restaurant “Nobu,” Boris had an eventful encounter in one of the restaurant’s broom closets.
Looking for a fresh napkin, I guess?
No, not quite. In fact, it’s now widely known that a drunken Boris fathered a love child during a moment of intimacy in that very broom closet with Russian-African model Angela Ermakova, one of the restaurant’s waitresses.
Hang on, I didn’t think service was included in UK restaurants.
Think you’re funny? Well it was no laughing matter for Boris. Some reports even maliciously suggested that he was slightly confused as to who he was enjoying his moment with due to a passing physical resemblance between Angela and his wife.
Boris initially denied that the child was his and his defence team proceeded to come up with a series of increasingly imaginative excuses for the scandal ranging from semen theft to a blackmail plot masterminded by the Russian mafia. But apart from the undeniable resemblance of the little girl to her father, a DNA test proved that it was indeed his spawn.
I take it he had to dig a little deeper then…
Yep, during a court case in 2001 Boris finally accepted the child as his own and paid Angela a staggering $5 million. But at least Nobu was so happy with all the free publicity that they insisted on giving Boris a hefty discount on his bill whenever he returned to one of their restaurants.
Well every cloud has a silver lining as they say, but all of this must have made Barbara Becker somewhat angry despite the cheap sushi?
You said it. Unsurprisingly Boris and Barbara split less than a month before the paternity case was finally over. The divorce settlement heard in Miami cost the star a whopping $14.5 million and lost him custody of their two sons. And the juicy details of Boris’ playboy behaviour and extravagant lifestyle were even broadcast live on German TV.
Gracious, I hope he’s tried to keep out of the headlines since then?
You’d think. But Boris started to enjoy his newly found freedom, and he’s had a string of affairs since his divorce. Almost all have lived out before the eyes of the world. The absolute highlights were Boris dumping Lilly Kerssenberg by text message and two years later being dumped by text message in return by his girlfriend at the time Sandy Meyer-Wölden.
But blonde Sandy clearly wasn’t Boris’ type since he just married brunette Lilly on Friday after reconciling last year. How serious can he be, you ask? As serious as anyone allowing their nuptials to be broadcast on German TV. Here’s hoping Boom-Boom’s heart has found true love.