Becker is still courting headlines

Former Wimbledon champion Boris Becker is once again enjoying a career in tennis, this time as a coach to world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
Former Wimbledon champion Boris Becker is once again enjoying a career in tennis, this time as a coach to world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON - Thirty years after he stormed to his first Wimbledon title, driven by a confident, teenage swagger, Boris Becker continues to make waves at the tournament.

Living within a drop-shot distance of the All England Club, the unruly red hair is still a constant even if the once easy on-court movement has been slowed by double hip surgery.

Now 47, Becker will be back at Wimbledon next week, once again in the corner of world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, whom he coached to a second title last year.

But even before the Serb begins his title defence, Becker has been difficult to avoid, especially with a new book to sell.

The German has even managed to ruffle the usually composed feathers of Roger Federer when he suggested in his memoir that the 33-year-old Swiss veteran and Djokovic do not get on.

Federer ratcheted up the pre-Wimbledon battle of nerves by claiming that the German was talking nonsense. "It's always dangerous when you are talking a lot. Sometimes, you say things you should not," the Swiss fired back.

Becker has also waded into the debate over the sport's future image, expressing his concern that too many of the younger breed lack the fire and headline-grabbing abilities of Djokovic, Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.

"The question has to be asked: What if Roger decides to quit or Rafa is not coming back? It's impossible to carry on with only Novak and Andy," Becker said, accusing the game's next generation as being "too politically correct".

"You have a young group of Australians - (Nick) Kyrgios, (Thanasi) Kokkinakis, who have good personalities and are interesting to watch, but there's a gap in between of players you don't know anything about."

When Becker won the first of his three Wimbledon titles, he was just 17 and unseeded.

He also became the tournament's youngest champion and first German winner as he went on to build a colourful career on the court as well as off where his energetic private life proved rich feeding ground for the tabloids.

Becker ended his career with six Grand Slam titles (including two more at Wimbledon in 1986 and 1989) and is getting a late-life kick from coaching Djokovic.

"Never in my wildest dreams did I think that in my first year (coaching Djokovic) after just a couple of months, we would be able to win the Wimbledon title.

"That was really the icing on the cake."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2015, with the headline 'Becker is still courting headlines'. Print Edition | Subscribe