Boris Becker: who is former Wimbledon tennis champion, does he have a wife or girlfriend - why was he in jail?
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Three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker was jailed for two-and-a-half years for flouting the terms of his 2017 bankruptcy - and now eight months into his sentence he has been released. The former world number one was earlier this year found guilty of transferring hundreds of thousands of pounds from his business account and failing to declare a property in his hometown of Leimen, Germany.
The 55-year-old German, who has lived in the UK since 2012, was expected to serve half of his sentence behind bars but was released on 15 December and was due on a flight to be deported from the UK, the PA news agency reported.
He is thought to have been transferred to a lower security jail for foreign criminals awaiting deportation in May – Category C Huntercombe Prison near Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire – after previously reportedly being held at Category B Wandsworth Prison in south-west London.
The six-time Grand Slam champion qualified for automatic deportation because he is a foreign national who does not have British citizenship and received a custodial sentence of more than 12 months.
While he was serving his sentence reports emerged that Becker has landed a job in prison teacher his fellow inmates sports science at HMP Huntercombe, which is a category C prison in Oxfordshire. This is what you need to know.
Who is Boris Becker?
Becker is a German former No 1 tennis player and, since his retirement from the sport in 1999, has published an autobiography, launched his own online media platform called Boris Becker TV, commentated on Wimbledon for the BBC and has coached tennis champion Novak Djokovic. Becker was born on 22 November 1967 in Leimen, Germany, to parents Elvira and Karl-Heinz Becker.
He began playing tennis in 1974 when he joined TC Blau-Weiß Leimen tennis club, and by 1977 he was a member of the junior team of the Baden Tennis Association.
Becker turned professional in 1984 and, as a teenager, won the Tennis World Young Masters in Birmingham in 1985. He won the first of his six Grand Slam singles titles at the age of just 17. Throughout the course of his career, Becker won three Wimbledon Championships, two Australian Opens and one US Open, three year-end championships, 13 Masters Series titles and an Olympic gold medal in doubles with partner Michael Stich at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona.
Does he have a wife or girlfriend?
Becker has had a number of high profile relationships over the years. On 17 December 1993, he married Barbara Feltus when she was eight months pregnant and on 18 January 1994 they welcomed their son, named Noah Gabriel, into the world. Feltus gave birth to their second child, Elias Balthasar, on 4 September 1999.
In November 2000, Becker asked his wife for a separation - talking to Vault in 2001, Becker said that, at the time, “divorce was the furthest thing from his mind”.
However, less than a week later, Feltus had flown to Miami with their two sons and in December was able to get around their prenuptial agreement when she applied in Dade County Circuit Court for financial protection, child support and their $3 million Fisher Island condo.
The terms of their prenuptial agreement stated that she would have been only entitled to a single $2.5 million payoff.
On 15 January 2001, Becker was granted a divorce - however, during their divorce proceedings, Becker was also in the midst of a paternity battle after a London-based Russian waitress and model Angela Ermakova claimed that he was the father of her daughter and was pushing for $5 million to support their child.
Ermakova claimed that Becker had originally accepted that he was the father and had agreed to provide for her, but then following the birth of their daughter had changed his mind.
Becker had denied paternity of the child and claimed that he had only engaged in oral sex with Ermakova. His lawyers claimed at one point that Ermakova had stolen Becker’s sperm after their encounter and had inseminated herself.
He eventually accepted that the girl was his and, in a statement issued by his spokesperson after a preliminary hearing at the high court in London, said: “I do accept fatherhood. I take responsibility, and I will take care of little Anna.
“I hope that this statement will end all the speculation of past weeks. Children are the most important people in our world. Whatever I can contribute, I will do for Anna’s future as a happy girl.” A DNA test later confirmed that he was, indeed, the father.
Talking to Piers Morgan on his ITV programme Lifestories in 2009, Becker said of his encounter with Ermakova: “It actually happened on the stairs between the bathrooms [in London’s Nobu restaurant].”
He said: “I felt very guilty, ashamed. It was my last day of tennis, now I’ve cheated on my wife. I live and learn. It cost my marriage, it cost for the next couple of years my private life but having Anna is not a mistake any more.
“I have a beautiful daughter. Today, I wouldn’t want to miss it for a minute. I love her very much." In 2007, Becker was granted joint custody over Anna.
The following year, he was briefly engaged to Alessandra Meyer-Wolden however the two broke up in November of 2008. Appearing on the German ZDF TV show Wetten, dass…? in 2009, Becker announced that he and Dutch model Sharlely “Lilly” Kerssenberg were getting married on 12 June 2009, in Switzerland. In August, the couple announced that they were expecting a child and on 10 February 2010, Kerssenberg gave birth to their son Amadeus Benedict Edley Luis Becker.
It was announced in 2018 that Becker and Kerssenberg were separating after nine years of marriage. According to reports from 2019, Becker appeared to be in a relationship with British model Layla Powell, however this relationship has since ended. Becker has been dating his current girlfriend, Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro, since June 2020.
Why was he jailed?
Becker was jailed after flouting the terms of his 2017 bankruptcy. He had been found guilty of transferring hundreds of thousands of pounds from his business account and failing to declare a property in Germany. Becker was also convicted of hiding an 825,000 euro (almost £700,000) bank loan and 75,000 shares in a tech firm.
Judge Deborah Taylor sentenced the six-time Grand Slam champion to two-and-a-half years imprisonment, at Southwark Crown Court.
Referring to his previous conviction, the judge said: “You did not heed the warning you were given and the chance you were given by the suspended sentence and that is a significant aggravating factor.”
She told Becker: “I take into account what has been described as your fall from grace. You have lost your career and reputation and all of your property as a result of your bankruptcy.”
But she added: “You have not shown remorse, acceptance of your guilt and have sought to distance yourself from your offending and your bankruptcy. While I accept your humiliation as part of the proceedings, there has been no humility.”
The German national, who has lived in the UK since 2012, said he was “shocked” and “embarrassed” when he was declared bankrupt on 21 June 2017 over an unpaid loan of more than £3 million on his estate in Mallorca, Spain.
He claimed he had cooperated with trustees tasked with securing his assets, even offering up his wedding ring, and relied on the advisers who managed his life.
However, Becker, who was supported in court by his partner Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro and eldest son Noah, was found guilty of four charges.
The court heard Becker received 1.13 million euros (about £950,000) from the sale of a Mercedes car dealership he owned in Germany, which was paid into a business account used as a “piggy bank” for his personal expenses.
Becker was found guilty of transferring 427,00 euros (£356,000) to nine recipients, including the accounts of ex-wife Barbara Feltus and estranged wife Sharlely “Lilly” Kerssenberg, mother of his fourth child.
He was further convicted of failing to declare a property in his home town of Leimen, hiding an 825,000 euro (almost £700,000) bank loan on the house as well as 75,000 shares in tech firm Breaking Data Corp.
What was his job in prison?
According to reports, Becker was given a job behind bars teaching sports science, having been made a classroom assistant.
It’s been claimed he had not been inside the facicilty long enough to have an enhanced prisoner status, and he therefore cannot work in the jail’s gym.
A prison insider was quote by the Sun as saying that there has been building resenting on the inside over Becker being given the position so quickly.
They said: “You would normally serve years before getting a job as a classroom assistant as it is seen as a privilege. But Becker has been given the job within weeks of being sentenced.
“There is a lot of resentment about it and the families of some prisoners have written letters of complaint.” They added: “It’s not exactly the life of luxury he’s used to - but he’s gt it better than most inmates.”
A Prison Service spokesperson told the Independent that on Wednesday (13 July) morning, the governor had told them that there had been no record of any complaints regarding the matter.
They said: “It’s untrue to suggest any preferential treatment was given. Offenders are able to access a variety of work and education opportunities while in prison.”