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Becker on trial accused of failing to hand over trophies to settle debts

Former Grand Slam champion, who was declared bankrupt in 2017, is alleged to have concealed assets, including properties in Germany and London



Former Wimbledon tennis champion Boris Becker, right, looks back as he waits in a queue to get into Southwark Crown Court in London. — AP
Former Wimbledon tennis champion Boris Becker, right, looks back as he waits in a queue to get into Southwark Crown Court in London. — AP

By AFP

Published: Mon 21 Mar 2022, 8:38 PM

A British jury was told to ignore Boris Becker’s celebrity status on Monday as the former world number one tennis player faces trial, accused of failing to hand over trophies he won to settle his debts.

The 54-year-old German, who was declared bankrupt in 2017, is alleged to have concealed assets, including properties in Germany and London.

Becker is accused of removing hundreds of thousands of pounds by transferring it to other accounts, including those of former wife Barbara Becker and estranged wife Sharlely “Lilly” Becker.

The six-time Grand Slam champion is also said to have failed to hand over a number of trophies, including two for winning Wimbledon and his two Australian Open trophies, as well as his 1992 Olympic gold medal for the men’s doubles.

Becker, who commentated for the BBC at Wimbledon last year, is facing a three-week trial at a south London court, where he denies 24 charges under the Insolvency Act relating to the period between May and October 2017.

They include nine counts of failing to deliver up trophies and other awards and seven counts of concealing property.

Other charges include five counts of failing to disclose estate, including properties in Germany and London, and one of concealing 825,000 euros ($910,000, £690,000) of debt.

Becker, who won 49 singles titles during his 16 years as a professional player, arrived at court on Monday morning hand in hand with his partner Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro.

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

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

“You must leave aside anything you have heard or any preconceptions about this case, including anything about this defendant, and start with a blank page,” 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.”

The prosecution is expected to open the case later on Monday.

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.


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