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Court hears ’boom-boom’ Boris Becker was dishonest by failing to hand over Grand Slam trophies

Former Wimbledon champion Boris Becker. Picture: Reuters

Former Wimbledon champion Boris Becker. Picture: Reuters

Published Mar 22, 2022


London - Boris Becker "acted dishonestly" when he failed to hand over nine trophies and medals won during his illustrious tennis career to pay his debts, a British court was told on Monday.

The 54-year-old former world number one was declared bankrupt in 2017 after borrowing around £3.5 million from private bank Arbuthnot Latham for a property in Mallorca, Spain, a jury was told.

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The six-time Grand Slam champion, accused of hiding or failing to hand over assets before and after his bankruptcy, is on trial in London charged with 24 counts relating to the period between May and October 2017.

Prosecutor Rebecca Chalkley said the assets include silverware such as the 1985 and 1989 Wimbledon trophies, Becker's Australian Open trophies from 1991 and 1996 and his 1992 Olympic men's doubles gold medal.

The German, who commentated for the BBC at Wimbledon last year, is accused of concealing €1.13 million from the sale of a car dealership he owned in Germany and transferring funds to other bank accounts.

He also allegedly failed to declare two German properties, as well as his interest in a flat in London, and hid a €825 000 bank loan.

"It is the prosecution case that Mr Becker acted dishonestly with regards to a number of his assets, that in various ways he effectively hid from, or made unavailable to, those responsible for identifying the assets," said Chalkley.

"The prosecution say Mr Becker did this both before and after the date of his bankruptcy agreement by not disclosing, not providing, or delivering up, or removing assets or things of value."

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Becker, who won 49 singles titles during his 16 years as a professional player, arrived at Southwark Crown Court in south London, hand in hand with his partner Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro.

He sat in the dock wearing a dark suit and white shirt, next to a German translator who is helping him during the trial.

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Judge Deborah Taylor said it was not suggested that Becker "does not speak English" but he could need help with "technical vocabulary such as legal concepts".

She told the jury: "You must ignore this defendant's celebrity and treat him in exactly the same way you would treat someone you have not heard of and is not in the public eye."

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Chalkley said the "bankruptcy bargain" relies on bankrupts "to be truthful and to disclose fully their assets", saying there was a strong public interest" in prosecuting those who breach their promise.

The trial is expected to last for up to three weeks.

'Boom, Boom' Boris

Becker, with a shock of strawberry-blond hair, shook up the tennis world in 1985 when he became Wimbledon's youngest men's singles champion at the age of 17 - repeating the feat the following year.

The German's dynamic style and boyish enthusiasm - best captured in his penchant for spectacular diving volleys on the Wimbledon grass - made him the darling of the crowds at the All England Club.

Nicknamed "Boom Boom" Becker for his ferocious serve, he won Wimbledon for a third time in 1989.

He also won the Australian Open twice and the US Open during his glittering career, becoming the top-ranked player in the world in 1991.

Becker turned to commentary after his retirement, landing a high-profile role on the BBC, but he returned to the court in 2013 as the coach of Novak Djokovic, helping the Serb win six more Grand Slam trophies before the pair parted ways in 2016.