Boom! Boom!: The World vs Becker - how Boris Becker’s AppleTV+ series battles between hubris and foolishness of tennis star

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Tennis star Boris Becker is questioned and queried in new AppleTV docuseries

In December 2022, Boris Becker was released from prison after serving eight months of a two-and-a-half year sentence for failing to hand over assets in relation to his bankruptcy.

A month later he was back on our screens and in our ears as he formed part of the Australian Open broadcasting crew with Eurosport. Three months after his TV return, the German three-time Wimbledon champion has a tw- part documentary coming out on Apple+.

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So what is it about this Grand Slam champion that enables him to bounce back from the lowest of lows to capture our interest again?

Ventureland’s new series on the German icon is entitled “Boom Boom: the World vs Becker” and while tennis fans know all too well the first half of this title, the second half has been aptly attributed to a man who appears oblivious to his own errors.

Within the opening few minutes, Becker cries out to the interviewer ‘why is this happening to me, what did I do to deserve this’, which appears a very peculiar and desperate plea from a man who hid money - the answers seem relatively self-explanatory.

Additionally, when the dramatic and incredulous love child affair is discussed, following his indiscretions in London’s Nobu back room, Becker’s recalling of the events are exceptionally different to those which actually occurred (he would like it known, however, that contrary to popular opinion his moment of passion did not take place in a cupboard, it was too small - as if this would be the main point of the story)

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This theme of misremembering is common throughout the two episodes - entitled Triumph and Disaster after a quote from Rudyard Kipling’s poem, ‘If’, which is above the door in Wimbledon - and leaves the viewer (or this viewer, at least) unable to trust our documentary’s protagonist.

The docuseries begins by focusing on Becker’s tremendous and numerous efforts on the court, which saw him rise to fame at the age of just 17-years-old after winning the Wimbledon Championships.

Boris Becker celebrates his Wimbledon win in 1985 at the age of just 17Boris Becker celebrates his Wimbledon win in 1985 at the age of just 17
Boris Becker celebrates his Wimbledon win in 1985 at the age of just 17 | Getty Images

As we work our way up until he reaches the number one in the world in 1991, we begin to see glimpses of his off-court life, most notably his reliance on sleeping pills which provide another haze in the line between fact and fiction in the world of Boris Becker.

The second episode, Disaster, focuses on the latter stages of his career, his relationship with his first wife Barbara, and how a former millionaire became bankrupt.

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The interviews with Becker take place at two different times: just after he finds himself in trouble with the law and three days before he ends up in jail. This is only a matter of just a few months but the difference is enormous.

Whereas the earlier interviews show a more joyful, hopeful and energetic man, the latter shows a near-broken shell, with whiter hair, more wrinkles and an anxious, irritable manner, baffled by the situation in which he is encased.

Becker’s dubious financial dealings, including his diplomatic passport with the Central African Republic, are unpicked as the episode continues with the German finding himself in more and more economic struggle with everyone that’s possible coming out to get that millions from Germany’s former media King with Becker protesting his innocence right until the last moments.

But the question begs, how can he still maintain innocence to such apparently blatant misdemeanours?

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Our interviewer frequently makes comments such as ‘what was Boris thinking’ when detailing yet more financial stupidity and towards the end of the second episode he ponders: “Was Boris reckless and naive, or just an entitled athlete or felt he didn’t need to play by the rules.”

Well, one might be persuaded to believe both - his economic stupidity is apparent but it is his blinding faith that he has constantly done what’s best for everyone but himself that makes him such a complex character to attempt to unpack.

It is said of Becker that on the court he would go five sets just to prove to himself what he was capable of. Becker himself said he could be two sets up, feel lazy and lose the next two, just to come back and smash the fifth set and show everyone (but mainly himself) what he could do.

And the docuseries navigates whether this mentality is true of his private life or not. It remains to be seen how Becker continues to persevere with a world he believes to be so passionately against him.

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Boris Becker is certainly a character who warrants such a docuseries and it is just unfortunate that his story is told in the midst of bizarre graphics of random feathers and tennis balls with American Western style music in the background.

However, for those able to ignore the unnecessary graphic design choices and eclectic soundtrack, they will find themselves questioning, and most likely unable to answer, whether the man who at one time was the world’s best tennis player really is an unfortunate hero or an arrogant fool brought down by his own hubris.

Boom Boom: the World vs Becker will be available to watch on AppleTV+ from Friday 7 April 2023.

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