His time in prison was for Boris Becker a “painful” experience, where he said he feared for his life. The former world tennis No. 1 notably admitted on Tuesday to being “guilty” of the acts of financial fraud that landed him behind bars.
“I learned a hard lesson. A very expensive lesson. Very painful,” said the German star, three-time Wimbledon winner, on the Sat.1 TV channel. It was his first interview since he was released from custody last week after eight months in custody in the UK.
“In prison you are nobody”
“Of course I was guilty,” admitted the six-time Grand Slam winner. During his trial, however, he pleaded naivety or error in judgment. The court had harshly criticized his lack of remorse.
The former champion broke down in tears several times and detailed his daily prison life, made of “starvation” and “extreme danger”, and of “English and maths lessons” given to his fellow prisoners. “In prison you are nobody. You are just a number. Mine was A2923EV,” he added. The former tennis player also confided that he had feared for his life several times, especially when a fellow inmate threatened to kill him before “others prisoner” intervened.
The 55-year-old ex-tennis champion was released on December 15 after serving a prison sentence for financial offences, mainly fraudulent bankruptcy. He immediately went back to Germany. “Prison was a good thing for me. We have time to think a lot (…) All these years I made a lot of mistakes, had bad friends, I didn’t organize myself well enough,” he assured.
Soon in Miami or Dubai?
Boris Becker, who had lived in the UK since 2012, was convicted in April of hiding or illegally transferring hundreds of thousands of euros and pounds to avoid settling his debts after being declared bankrupt. He had been sentenced to two and a half years in prison by a court in London, but served only eight months. However, the former athlete has no intention of staying in Germany: “Maybe Miami”, he mentioned, also claiming to be “a big fan of Dubai”.
This interview is only the first step in the media’s return to the former champion, who was to be the hero of a documentary presented out of competition at the next Berlinale, Berlin’s international film festival. The synopsis for this film, directed by Oscar-winning British filmmaker Alex Gibney, promises to tell the story of a “young talent who conquered Wimbledon and, after setting a country on fire, fell with equal grandeur”.