Boris Becker tells court he does not know where his Wimbledon trophies are

After being declared bankrupt, former tennis star is accused of failing to hand over trophies from his top-flight career

Former Wimbledon Champion and sports commentator Boris Becker arrives at Southwark Crown Court in London. The six-time Grand Slam champion is accused of having 'acted dishonestly' when he failed to hand over trophies and medals to pay off his debts. EPA

Six-time Grand Slam tennis champion Boris Becker does not know where his Wimbledon trophies are, he has told a jury.

Becker was declared bankrupt on June 21, 2017, and is on trial for reportedly failing to hand over assets including nine trophies and medals from his glittering career after he burst on to the scene by winning the 1985 Wimbledon’s men’s singles title at the age of 17.

Becker, 54, told the jury at London’s Southwark Crown Court he would produce the trophies “tomorrow” if he had them.

He said he has sold his properties to help fix his finances and that he had “lots” of trophies and memorabilia from his 15-year career, but some are now missing.

The German former world number one said: “For the player, it’s about winning the title. The trophy is not so much when you are playing.

“Nowadays, I wish I have them to show them to my children.”

Becker, who won 49 singles titles in 77 finals over 16 years, has denied 24 charges under the Insolvency Act.

Among the awards he is accused of failing to hand over after he was declared bankrupt are two of his three Wimbledon men’s singles titles, his 1992 Olympic gold medal, Australian Open trophies from 1991 and 1996, the President’s Cup from 1985 and 1989, his 1989 Davis Cup Trophy and a Davis Cup Gold Coin which he won in 1988.

The showpiece trophies presented on court are bigger than the ones the athletes get to take home, the court heard.

He described the Wimbledon trophy — the All England Lawn Tennis Cup — as “very large, you have a hard time holding it”. Winners instead take home a “much smaller” replica of the 60-by-30-centimetre trophy.

Becker said the Australian Open “is a big tournament to win it, but what you keep is like this”, cupping his hands towards each other for the jury to see.

He added that Roger Federer “made a complaint many times” about one trophy and “they enlarged the trophy that we got to take home”.

Former Wimbledon Champion and sports commentator Boris Becker arrives with his partner Lillian de Carvalho at Southwark Crown Court in London. EPA

“Obviously what you receive on the court is not what you keep. What you keep is usually given to your agent or manager, they take it and you usually are travelling to another tournament,” he told the court.

Becker said he knows he gave a President’s Cup trophy to his mother.

Some of his trophies were auctioned off for £700,000 ($917,000) to pay his debts and he has made various appeals to try to locate the missing trophies.

Major tennis associations, halls of fame and museums are among the places that have been contacted, but Becker said he is “not in a better position today” to say where they are.

The court has heard that Becker’s bankruptcy resulted from a €4.6 million euro ($5.1 million) loan from private bank Arbuthnot Latham in 2013, and £1.2m ($1.6m), with a 25 per cent interest rate, borrowed from British businessman John Caudwell the following year.

The former tennis star said he had been seeking to pay off a more than £3m ($3.9m) loan from Arbuthnot Latham, including through the sale of his estate in Mallorca, Spain, known as the Finca, and he was “shocked” by his situation.

During cross-examination, prosecutor Rebecca Chalkley told Becker he was “distancing” himself from matters that were part of the build-up to his bankruptcy.

A legal document had been sent “signifying the next steps towards bankruptcy” but Becker says he does not remember it, the court heard.

Ms Chalkley said that by January 2017, he would have been aware he was unable to pay the loan but Becker said “that was not correct”.

She told him he had been “deliberately concealing” how much investigators found out about his assets because he was “keeping your powders dry”.

“There was no consequence of you not telling them too much but there were consequences in you not telling them enough,” Ms Chalkley said.

Becker, who said he had worked to verify his assets, added he had put his “complete confidence” in his advisers.

By 2018, letters and emails had been sent to Becker about the outstanding matters in his financial dealings.

Ms Chalkley told Becker he would only “engage” in the process when it was “in your interests to obtain finance or to deal with matters of finance”.

He said he had been engaged with the situation.

The hearing was adjourned until Wednesday.

Updated: March 30, 2022, 8:17 AM
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