Boris Becker: Overcoming mental struggles and embracing redemption after prison ordeal

Former tennis champion opens up about prison stint and how it made him appreciate freedom, in documentary

Boris Becker sees mental health as the 'biggest challenge' among the younger generation of tennis players. AFP
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Tennis legend Boris Becker has opened up about his mental struggles and the fight for survival during his time in prison.

The 55-year-old three-time Wimbledon champion served eight months of a two-and-a-half-year sentence for charges related to his 2017 bankruptcy case before being released in December.

He was found guilty of concealing £2.5 million in assets and loans to evade debt repayment.

Becker acknowledged the dangerous nature of prison life, emphasising the importance of forming alliances with other inmates for protection.

Becker reflected on the judgment, trial, jurors, and his own mistakes, acknowledging that they are all in the past and cannot be changed.

“So, acceptance is very important. Also to learn to live inside the cell. It’s a very lonely place so you have to use all your strength and all your mental energy just to survive the day," said Becker.

“And then if you have a little bit left, just to be hopeful for the future”.

Becker sees mental health as the “biggest challenge” among the younger generation of players but believes his personal experiences can serve as a valuable lesson.

“I am a prime example of having strong mental health, and there are reasons for it," he said.

“In my upbringing, in my life choices, and the fact that I’m taking responsibility for my actions — the good and the bad.

“And also of being accountable, meaning if I mess up, I paid a heavy price for it. And I think that’s what some of the younger generation need to hear more of.”

Reflecting on his time in prison he said: “You only appreciate freedom once you’ve been incarcerated. It’s a different lifestyle, it’s a different world.

“And I think that’s what it taught me, really trying to live in the now, because we don’t know what’s around the corner next week. If anything, I think that’s what was the most important lesson.”

Becker drew parallels between his life and his tennis career, using his on-court comebacks as a metaphor for his current situation.

“The most important point is the last point, not the first, and my plan is to win my last point,” he said.

Boris Becker: seven facts about the former tennis ace

Boris Becker: seven facts about the former tennis ace

He recalled reflecting on the mistakes he made and learning to accept the consequences of his actions. Upon his release, Becker expressed gratitude for the support from the tennis world, which has helped him find his footing again.

A new documentary titled Boom! Boom! The World vs. Boris Becker is set to premiere on Apple TV on April 7.

The two-part film, directed by Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney and produced by Oscar-winning producer John Battsek, explores Becker's rise to fame, his personal challenges, and his path to redemption.

The documentary delves into Becker's time in prison, where he says he had to use all his strength and mental energy just to survive the day. It also features interviews with tennis stars including John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg

In recent years, mental health has become a crucial topic in tennis, with players such as Naomi Osaka taking career breaks to focus on their well-being.

Updated: March 31, 2023, 6:15 PM