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Boris Becker

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Boris Becker
Boris Becker 2007 amk.jpg
Country West Germany (1983–1990)
 Germany (from 1990)
Residence Schwyz, Switzerland
Born (1967-11-22) 22 November 1967
Leimen, West Germany
Height 1.90 m (6 ft 3 in)
Weight 85 kg (190 lb; 13.4 st)
Turned pro 1984
Retired 30 June 1999
Plays Right-handed (one-handed backhand)
Prize money


  •   7th all-time leader in earnings
Int. Tennis HOF 2003 ( member page)
Career record 713–214 (76.91%)
Career titles 49
Highest ranking No. 1 (28 January 1991)
Grand Slam Singles results
Australian Open W ( 1991, 1996)
French Open SF ( 1987, 1989, 1991)
Wimbledon W ( 1985, 1986, 1989)
US Open W ( 1989)
Other tournaments
Tour Finals W ( 1988, 1992, 1995)
WCT Finals W ( 1988)
Olympic Games 3R ( 1992)
Career record 254–136
Career titles 15
Highest ranking No. 6 (22 September 1986)
Grand Slam Doubles results
Australian Open QF (1985)
Other Doubles tournaments
Olympic Games Gold medal.svg Gold Medal ( 1992)
Team Competitions
Davis Cup W (1988, 1989)
Hopman Cup W (1995)

Last updated on: January 23, 2012.

Olympic medal record
Men's Tennis
Gold 1992 Barcelona Men's doubles

Boris Franz Becker (born 22 November 1967) is a former World No. 1 professional tennis player from Germany. He is a six-time Grand Slam singles champion, an Olympic gold medalist in doubles, and the youngest-ever winner of the men's singles title at Wimbledon at the age of 17. Becker also won five major indoor championships titles including three ATP Masters World Tour Finals (played eight finals, second all-time to Ivan Lendl, who played nine) and one WCT Finals and one Grand Slam Cup. He also won five Masters 1000 series titles and eight Championship Series titles. Tennis Magazine put Becker in 18th place on its list of the 40 greatest tennis players from 1965 to 2005.

Early life

Becker was born in Leimen, West Germany, the only son of Elvira (née Pisch), who was raised in Czechoslovakia. His parents were Catholic, and part of his mother's family were Jewish. His father Karl-Heinz, an architect, founded the tennis centre ( Tennis-Club Blau-Weiß 1964 Leimen e. V.) in Leimen, where Becker learned the game.

Tennis career

Becker turned professional in 1984, under the guidance of Romanian-born coach, Günther Bosch, and with Ion Ţiriac as manager and won his first professional doubles title that year in Munich. As a West German teenager, Becker won his first top-level singles title in June 1985 at Queen's Club and two weeks later on 7 July, became the first unseeded player and the first German to win the Wimbledon singles title, defeating Kevin Curren in four sets. At that time, he was ranked 20th in ATP ranking and Wimbledon did not do any seeds beyond 16 seeds. He was the youngest ever male Grand Slam singles champion at 700117000000000000017 years, 7002227000000000000227 days (a record later broken by Michael Chang in 1989, who won the French Open when he was 700117000000000000017 years, 7002110000000000000110 days). Two months after his triumph, Becker became the youngest winner of the Cincinnati Open.

In 1986, Becker successfully defended his Wimbledon title, defeating world no. 1 Ivan Lendl in straight sets in the final. Becker, then ranked world no. 2, was upset in the second round of Wimbledon in 1987 by the world no. 70 player, Peter Doohan. In the Davis Cup that year, Becker and John McEnroe played one of the longest matches in tennis history. Becker won, 4–6, 15–13, 8–10, 6–2, 6–2 (at that time, there were no tiebreaks in the Davis Cup). The match lasted 6 hours and 22 minutes.

Becker was back in the Wimbledon final in 1988, where he lost in four sets to Stefan Edberg in a match that marked the start of one of Wimbledon's great rivalries. Becker also helped West Germany win its first Davis Cup in 1988. He won the year-end Masters title in New York City, defeating five-time champion Lendl in the final. The same year he also won season ending WCT Finals for the rival World Championship Tennis tour defeating Edberg in four sets.

In 1989, Becker won two Grand Slam singles titles, the only year he won more than one. After losing to Edberg in the French Open semifinals, he defeated Edberg in the Wimbledon final, and then beat Lendl in the US Open final. He also helped West Germany retain the Davis Cup, defeating Andre Agassi in the semifinal round. As a result, Becker was named Player of The Year by the ATP Tour. The world no. 1 ranking, however, still eluded him.

In 1990, Becker met Edberg for the third consecutive year in the Wimbledon final, but this time was on the losing end of a long five-set match. He also failed to defend his US Open title, losing to Agassi in the semifinals. Becker reached the final of the Australian Open for the first time in his career in 1991, where he defeated Lendl to claim the world no. 1 ranking. Another loss to Agassi in the French Open semifinals kept him from winning the first two Grand Slam tournaments of the year. He was ranked world no. 1 for twelve weeks during 1991, though he never managed to finish a year with that ranking.

In 1992 Becker won seven tour titles including his second ATP Tour World Championships defeating Jim Courier in four sets.

By 1993, issues back home over his courtship of and marriage to Barbara Feltus, whose mother was German and father was African-American, and tax problems with the German Government, had caused Becker to slide into a severe mid-career decline. Becker was ranked world no. 2 during Wimbledon in 1991 and reached his fourth consecutive final there. However, he lost in straight sets to fellow German compatriot and world no. 7 Michael Stich. Becker and Stich developed a fierce rivalry, with the media often comparing a passionate Becker to a more stoic Stich. However, Becker and Stich teamed in 1992 to win the men's doubles gold medal at the Olympic Games in Barcelona. Becker defeated Jim Courier in straight sets to win the 1992 year-end ATP Tour World Championships in Frankfurt.

In 1995, Becker reached the Wimbledon final for the seventh time, by defeating Agassi in the semifinals. In the final however, the years past-his-prime Becker, further fatigued after grueling baseline contests with Cédric Pioline and then with Agassi, ran out of gas after winning the first set in a tiebreak, and lost in four sets to Pete Sampras. He won the year-end ATP Tour World Championships for the third and last time in Frankfurt with a straight-set win over Michael Chang in the final. Becker's sixth and final Grand Slam title came in 1996 when he defeated Chang in the final of the Australian Open. In that tournament, Becker delivered a humorous victory speech. When he mentioned his sponsors, he cut himself short, by saying that he did not have the whole day left. He then consoled Chang, by saying that his (Becker's) days were numbered, while Chang was still young. After winning the Queen's Club Championships for the fourth time, Becker was widely expected to mount a serious challenge for the Wimbledon title in 1996, but his bid ended abruptly when he damaged his right wrist during a third-round match against Neville Godwin and was forced to withdraw.

Becker in 1994

Becker defeated Sampras in October 1996 in a five-set final in Stuttgart. "Becker is the best indoor player I've ever played", said Sampras after the match. Becker lost to Sampras in the final of the 1996 ATP Tour World Championships in Hanover. Becker saved two match points in the fourth set and held serve 27 consecutive times until he was broken in the penultimate game. Later that year he won the Grand Slam Cup defeating Goran Ivanisevic in the final. In 1997, Becker lost to Sampras in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. After that match, he vowed that he would never play at Wimbledon again. However, Becker played Wimbledon one more time in 1999, this time losing in the fourth round to Patrick Rafter.

Becker was most comfortable playing on fast-playing surfaces, particularly grass courts and indoor carpet (on which he won 26 titles). He reached a few finals playing on clay courts, but never won a clay-court tournament in his professional career. His best performances at the French Open were when he reached the semifinals in 1987, 1989, and 1991.

Over the course of his career, Becker won 49 singles titles and 15 doubles titles. Besides his six Grand Slam titles, he was also a singles winner in the year-end Masters / ATP Tour World Championships in 1988, 1992, and 1995, the WCT Finals in 1988 and at the Grand Slam Cup in 1996. He won a record-equalling four singles titles at London's Queen's Club. In Davis Cup, his career win-loss record was 54–12, including 38–3 in singles. He also won the other two major international team titles playing for Germany, the Hopman Cup (in 1995) and the World Team Cup (in 1989 and '98).

Becker won singles titles in 14 different countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Qatar, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States. In 2003, Becker was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. He occasionally plays on the senior tour and in World Team Tennis. He is also sometimes a commentator at Wimbledon for the BBC.

Playing style

Becker's game was based on a fast and well-placed serve, that earned him the nicknames "Boom Boom", "Der Bomber" and "Baron von Slam", and great volleying skills at the net. He could supplement his pure serve-and-volley game with brilliant athleticism at the net, which included the diving volley that was considered a trademark of the young German, and which endeared him to his fans. His heavy forehand and return of serve were also very significant factors in his game.

Becker occasionally deviated from his serve-and-volley style to try to out-hit, from the baseline, opponents who normally were at their best while remaining near the baseline. Even though Becker possessed powerful shots from both wings, this strategy was often criticized by commentators.

Becker had frequent emotional outbursts on court. Whenever he considered himself to be playing badly, he often swore at himself and occasionally smashed his rackets. In contrast to John McEnroe, Becker rarely showed aggression toward his opponents or officials. Also in contrast to McEnroe, his level of play and focus tended to be diminished rather than enhanced following these outbursts. Becker's highly dramatic play spawned new expressions such as the Becker Blocker (his trademark early return shot), the Becker Hecht (a flying lunge), the Becker Faust ("Becker Fist"), the Becker Shuffle (the dance he sometimes performed after making important points), and Becker Säge ("Becker Saw" – referring to the way in which he pumped his fists in a sawing motion).

Becker, one of the most effective players in his era on grass courts and carpet courts, had less success on clay. He never won a top-level singles title on clay, coming closest when holding two match points against Thomas Muster in the final of the 1995 Monte Carlo Open. Becker did, however, team up with Michael Stich to win the 1992 men's doubles Olympic gold medal on clay.


Becker played most of his career with racquets from the German company Puma. After production of this racquet was discontinued, he bought the moulds and had them produced by the American company Estusa. He now has his own personal line of racquets and apparel.

Career statistics

In Grand Slam singles tournaments, Becker's match record is 163–40, an 80.3 winning percentage. The other male players in the open era with winning percentages over 80 are Björn Borg (89.8), Rafael Nadal (87.6), Roger Federer (86.9), Pete Sampras (84.2), Novak Djokovic (83.9), Jimmy Connors (82.6), Ivan Lendl (81.9), John McEnroe (81.5) and Andre Agassi (80.9).


  • These records were attained in Open Era of tennis.
  • Records in bold indicate peer-less achievements.
  • ^ Denotes consecutive streak.
Championship Years Record accomplished Player tied
Wimbledon 1985 Youngest Wimbledon champion Stands alone
ATP Masters Series 1986–92 3 Paris Masters titles Marat Safin
ATP Tour 1986–96 19 match wins against World No. 1 player Stands alone
ATP Tour 1987–99 10 match wins after trailing 0–2 in sets Aaron Krickstein

Professional Awards

  • ITF World Champion: 1989.
  • ATP Player of the Year: 1989.
  • ATP Most Improved Player: 1985.

Post-retirement career

BECKER Boris-24x30-.jpg

Since 2000, Becker has been the principal owner of the tennis division of Völkl Inc., a tennis racquet and clothing manufacturer. He published a tell-all autobiography Augenblick, verweile doch... (English title: The Player) in 2003. From October 2005 to June 2006, Becker was a team captain on the British TV sports quiz show They Think It's All Over.

In October 2006, Becker signed a two-year deal with Vodafone to answer selected text messages from fans. The terms were his answering around 300 messages per year. These were predominantly questions about his career and trivia about the men's ATP tour. Becker has visited several places in Europe promoting the service, including Moscow and Airdrie.

In November 2007, Becker joined the Team PokerStars group of poker players sponsored by the PokerStars online poker cardroom. As part of the Team, Becker played in major poker tournaments like the European Poker Tour.

In May 2009, Becker announced the launch of online media platform Boris Becker TV. The website, in English and German, features clips from his career and footage of his daily life.

Since 2009, Becker has been a commentator for the BBC at Wimbledon. He was also the first former tennis player to appear on BBC's car show Top Gear as the "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car". He posted a lap time of 1 minute 45.9 seconds, driving the Kia Cee'd. Due to his popularity with British audiences, he has been christened "Britain's favourite German" (with slightly ironic reference to stereotypical British attitudes towards Germany).

In 2012, Becker appeared in the eighth edition of the European Poker Tour in Barcelona. He won over 8000 Euros at the event before busting out just within the prize range. It was his first cash prize in a main event in the European Poker Tour.

He is a patron of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

At the 2012 US Open Final between Murray and Djokovic, Becker used the phrase 'If you want to win something special, you've got to do something special.' After an impressive serve volley attack from Murray and in so doing coined a new unique moniker.

Personal life

Becker lives in Schwyz, Switzerland. He is a fan of German football club Bayern Munich and serves on its advisory board alongside former Bavarian Premier Edmund Stoiber.

In addition to Munich, Monaco, and Schwyz, Becker has or has had apartments in London, in or near Wimbledon, and Miami, to be near his children.


Becker with Barbara Feltus in 1992

On 17 December 1993, Becker married actress and designer Barbara Feltus. On 18 January 1994, their son Noah Gabriel, named after Becker's friends Yannick Noah and Peter Gabriel, was born. Their second child, Elias Balthasar, was born on 4 September 1999. Before the marriage, they shocked some in Germany by posing nude for the cover of Stern in a picture taken by her father.

After Becker asked Barbara for a separation in December 2000, she flew to Miami, Florida with Noah and Elias, and filed a divorce petition in Miami-Dade County Court, sidestepping their prenuptial agreement, which had entitled her to a single $2.5 million payoff. The January 2001 pretrial hearing was broadcast live to Germany. Becker was granted a divorce on 15 January 2001. She got a $14.4 million settlement, their condo on the exclusive Fisher Island, and custody of Noah and Elias.

In February 2001, Becker acknowledged paternity of a daughter, Anna (born 22 March 2000), with Russian model Angela Ermakova. In October 2009, he confirmed media reports that the child was the result of an encounter in 1999 at a London restaurant. He had been out drinking following losing a main draw singles match at the Wimbledon Championships, in what had been a come-back to the venue of his greatest success. Becker initially denied paternity, but admitted he was the child's father after a DNA test. In November 2007, he obtained joint custody of Anna after expressing concerns over how her mother was raising her.

Becker was engaged to Alessandra Meyer-Wölden briefly in 2008. Her father, Axel Meyer-Wölden, was Becker's advisor and manager in the 1990s. The couple broke up in November 2008.

In February 2009 on the German ZDF TV show Wetten, dass..?, Becker announced that he and Dutch model Sharlely "Lilly" Kerssenberg would be getting married on 12 June 2009 in St Moritz, Switzerland. In August 2009 they announced that they were expecting a child. In February 2010, Becker and his wife welcomed a son, Amadeus Benedict Edley Luis Becker. The name Edley is for his wife's uncle Edley, and Luis is for his friend, Mexican-Cuban millionaire Luis Garcia Fanjul, who is also the child's godfather.


  • Wimbledon Record Breakers (2005) Starring: Andre Agassi, Boris Becker; Standing Room Only, DVD Release Date: 16 August 2005, Run Time: 52 minutes, ASIN: B000A3XYYQ.
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