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Understanding Boris Becker's bankruptcy: Is the tennis star really broke?

FEATURED COLUMNIST
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1.57K   //    23 Jun 2017, 19:22 IST

Becker will be a pundit and commentator at Wimbledon 2017 

Former top-ranked player Boris Becker was recently declared bankrupt by a judge in a London-based bankruptcy court, with many speculating on the state of the player’s finances. The former World No. 1, who won six singles Grand Slam titles in his heyday, has amassed a significant amount of prize money in his time and was active until the end of 2016 in his coaching role with former No. 1 Novak Djokovic. 

Is Becker really completely insolvent? Here’s how it works:


Becker was taken to court over a debt from 2015 by private bankers Arbuthnot Latham and Company, to whom the German ace has had an outstanding debt since 2015. The 49-year-old said under deposition that he was in the process of mortgaging a property he owned in Mallorca, Spain, which would raise 6m according to the player and his legal team. 

But the registrar at the time, Christine Derrett, said she remembered watching Becker play on court. The player, incredulous at the final decision, said through his lawyer there was “no doubt he could repay the amount” given his now-TV hosting job and his long stint with Novak Djokovic – a period during which the two added six titles to Djokovic’s kitty. 

The tennis star owns a home in Wimbledon – the home of the tournament, and today was seen there at a private members’ club with friends. 

With 6 Grand Slam titles, various wins, coaching stints and a regular TV hosting job, it is difficult perhaps to comprehend that Becker – who also endorses a number of brands – could be faced with empty pockets. 

Becker himself denied the claims that he was “broke”, saying on Twitter that his “....earnings are well-publicized and it is clear I have the means to repay this debt.”

It is very likely, given his high-end brand associations and business deals over the years, in addition to coaching, that Becker very likely does have the means to do so – but as his barrister admitted in court, the German is a “man with his head in the sand.” Becker has never lived a particularly financially prudent life, and has long been a believer in a fairly ostentatious lifestyle. 

The German owns a Porsche Cayenne GTS, a Maserati GHIBLI S and a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG among other cars – two of which were towed away by traffic wardens in the upmarket neighbourhood of South Kensington in London yesterday. Indeed, Becker gives off the impression of a man unaware of his own finances, or uncaring towards them. Once one of the highest earners in tennis, Becker has also been accused of evading tax in the past, allegations he categorically denied at the time. 

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Already tied into a punditry and commentating role with the BBC for Wimbledon, it is unlikely Becker is suffering a dramatic financial issue or indeed one as dramatic as the media has made it out to be; in fact, the player himself spoke to his former ‘pupil’, Novak Djokovic, telling the Serbian former No. 1 that the media had “overblown the issue.”

In addition to numerous luxury vehicles, his Spanish property and a detached home in Wimbledon, Becker likely has made other investments. The registrar may have declared him unfit to pay the debts in the stipulated time, but should Becker’s property refinancing come through, he will be tided over. 

Becker’s assets remain, however, and it is possible he has other investments. So the allegations that Becker is now completely insolvent are untrue – but this has exacerbated the ace’s spendthrift, playboy image.

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