while an athlete reaches a level of brilliance while they are still in their teenage years, it may be particularly startling to see them into their middle years because of several factors.
The wear and tear of life takes the place of the youthful excitement. Paunch overtakes once-chiseled physiques. In the most tragic of circumstances, poor judgements made during the glorious years, mistakes made during the years following the triumphant years, or both, lead to an existence that seemed inconceivable back when life offered the grandeur of championship after championship and the concomitant glitter.
Boris Becker was a Wimbledon singles champion at the age of 17, a prisoner in a British jail at the age of 54, and is now a free man at the age of 55. This is what comes to mind when Boris Becker appears on the screen of a laptop during his first interview with The New York Times since he was freed from prison at the end of last year. For concealing and transferring money and assets during the course of a bankruptcy procedure, Becker was sentenced to two and a half years in prison and spent eight months of that term. In 2002, he was found guilty of evading taxes in Germany and sentenced to prison.
Now that all of that is behind him, he believes, he can begin to regain the finer portions of his life before he was incarcerated, doing what retired tennis greats of a certain age normally do, which is commentating on television and taking up employment as an occasional coach and consultant for younger players. He also hopes that he will be able to resume playing tennis again. Becker, who has won six Grand Slam titles, has a viewpoint that is tragically unique but nevertheless useful on the dangers and challenges that come with being a contemporary tennis superstar.
The jail uniform has been abandoned in favour of a blue suit with impeccable tailoring. However, his blue eyes were once again bright and optimistic, in contrast to his drooping, heavy-lidded demeanour from a year earlier.
But after Becker reached retirement age, his life turned into a scandalous narrative of philandering, failed business endeavors, bankruptcies, scandals in the tabloids, and time spent in jail. Along the way, there was also a nearly three-year tenure guiding the current number one player in the world, Novak Djokovic, during one of the most successful periods of his career.
Gibney, a writer and filmmaker who describes himself as a “tennis freak,” said that he had been intrigued to footage from a documentary that was released in 1991 in which Becker remarked that he preferred falling behind in matches by a set or two. Becker made this statement in the documentary. Becker predicted that once he did that, the man would regain his composure and come back with a vengeance.
According to Battsek, the producer of the film, he first contacted Becker in 2018 about the possibility of filming a documentary. This was before Becker’s bankruptcy led to his conviction for the crime. Gibney conducted long interviews with him in 2019, and he did so once more in 2018 after his conviction and just a few days before his sentence. At that time, Becker was overweight and afraid, and he was trying to have his say for what he believed may be the final time for many years.
The man who had previously controlled the hallowed Center Court at Wimbledon was imprisoned inside his cell for 22 hours a day during his initial weeks of jail. The only times he was permitted to leave his cell were for meals (lunch and supper), a shower and a little amount of time outside.
He said that he had concerns for his own well-being while incarcerated, but that he was able to put his pride aside and integrate himself into a community that kept him safe.
He is aware that the events that transpired in his life did not have to take place in the manner in which they did, and he regrets that he did not devote more of his time during his playing days to studying the legal contracts that he was required to sign rather than spending it relaxing on the beach or playing tennis.
According to him, when he resigned, he was not psychologically prepared for the shock of being considered old at the age of 35 and for the need of having to begin a second profession from the ground up.
But now he is beginning the process all over again. Commentating on the Australian Open for Eurosport was one of his duties. He harbours the expectation that some of his previous business partners and bosses will also come back.For the very first time, he is setting rather modest objectives for himself.