February 4, 2023

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Boris Becker departs for Germany after UK prison term

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The 55-year-old German six-time Grand Slam champion has served a prison sentence linked to his 2017 bankruptcy.

Former tennis superstar Boris Becker has departed for Germany after his release from a British prison where he served a sentence relating to his 2017 bankruptcy, according to his lawyer.

The 55-year-old German six-time Grand Slam champion “was released from custody in England and has left for Germany today”, his Berlin-based lawyer Christian-Oliver Moser said in a statement on Thursday.

He added Becker has “served his sentence and is not subject to any penal restrictions in Germany”.

Moser declined to provide information on where Becker would arrive and said any requests for interviews “will not be answered”.

Hiding $3.1m

German national Becker was jailed for two and a half years in April for flouting insolvency rules by hiding 2.5 million pounds ($3.1m) of assets and loans to avoid paying debts.

He had been declared bankrupt in June 2017, owing creditors 50 million pounds ($62m) for an unpaid loan of more than three million pounds ($3.7m) on his estate on the Spanish island of Mallorca.

A judge at Southwark Crown Court in south London told Becker, who has lived in the UK since 2012, that he would serve half of his sentence in prison. However, he was released on Thursday morning.

Becker was initially reported to have been held at Wandsworth Prison in southwest London, near the All England Club at Wimbledon where he won three titles.

He was then transferred to the lower-security Huntercombe prison near Oxford, southern England, for foreign criminals awaiting deportation.

Becker qualified for removal as he is not a British citizen and received a custodial sentence of more than 12 months.

The Sun newspaper on Tuesday said Becker’s mother Elvira, 87, told a friend that her son’s release from prison was “the best Christmas present I could hope for”.

“I cannot wait to hold my beloved son in my arms,” she was quoted as saying.

Media reports suggested he would stay with friends in Frankfurt.

During his trial, Becker recounted how his career earnings were swallowed up by a costly divorce from his first wife Barbara, child maintenance payments and an expensive lifestyle.

He said he was “shocked” and “embarrassed” when he was declared bankrupt and had relied on advisers to manage his life outside tennis.

But he insisted he had cooperated with trustees trying to secure his assets.

No remorse

Judge Deborah Taylor disagreed, telling him he had shown no remorse or acceptance of his guilt.

“You … have sought to distance yourself from your offending and your bankruptcy. While I accept your humiliation as part of the proceedings, there has been no humility,” she said.

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 17.

Nicknamed “Boom Boom” Becker for his ferocious serve, he repeated the feat the following year and won a third title 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.

He landed a high-profile commentary role with the BBC after his retirement, but returned to the court in 2013, coaching Novak Djokovic.

On Wednesday, excerpts were released of a new Apple TV+ documentary on Becker from the time leading up to his very public downfall.

Just before he was sentenced, an emotional Becker admitted he had hit rock bottom. “I don’t know what to make of it,” he said.

But added, “I will face it. I’m not going to hide or run away. I will accept whatever sentence I’m going to get.”

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