Tennis star Boris Becker was born on November 22, 1967, in Leimen, West Germany. He made an immediate splash as a pro by powering his way to the Wimbledon championship as a 17-year-old in 1985, and won five more Grand Slam championships among his 49 career singles titles. Becker has remained busy with business and poker interests while also generating plenty of controversy in retirement.
Boris Franz Becker was born on November 22, 1967, in Leimen, West Germany. His father, an architect, built the hometown tennis center, Blau-Weiss Tennisklub, where Becker learned the sport as a child. He started playing competitively at age 8, occasionally practicing with another German-born future champion, Steffi Graf.
Becker dropped out of school in the 10th grade to train with the West German Tennis Federation. He turned pro in 1984 at age 16.
It didn't take long for the powerful 6'3", 180-pound Becker to make his mark on the game. With his monster serve and willingness to throw his body all over the court, the red-haired teenager rode a wave of momentum to reach the 1985 Wimbledon finals, where he beat eighth-seeded Kevin Curran in four sets. At 17 years and 7 months, he was the youngest men's player in history to win a Grand Slam title (later bested by Michael Chang), as well as the first non-seeded player to win the prestigious tournament.
Becker repeated his Wimbledon triumph the following year with a straight-set victory over Ivan Lendl. He lost to Stefan Edberg in the 1988 finals but hoisted the winner’s trophy again in 1989, when he also won the U.S. Open championship and logged an overall 64-8 record in match play.
Becker won his fifth major title by toppling Lendl in the 1991 Australian Open, a victory that earned him the No. 1 overall ranking for the first time in his career. He claimed his sixth and final Grand Slam in 1996, a four-set victory over Chang at the Australian Open.
In addition to his success in the majors, Becker was a force in Davis Cup play. He led Germany to victory in 1988 and 1989, and at one point won 22 consecutive Davis Cup singles matches. Becker also won the year-end ATP World Championships three times, and secured Olympic gold with doubles partner Michael Stich in 1992.
But the powerful German is best remembered for his success on the famed grass courts of Wimbledon, where he rocketed to stardom. Fittingly, he announced his retirement after losing there in the fourth round in 1999, finishing with an outstanding 71-12 career record at the All-England Club. Overall he won 49 career singles titles, another 15 in doubles and walked away with over $25 million in earnings.
Off the Court
Becker started a tennis equipment and apparel business, and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2003, but he also generated headlines for controversial reasons after his retirement.
He was found guilty of tax evasion in 2002, but managed to avoid a prison sentence. Two years later he released his autobiography, The Player, in which he detailed his addiction to sleeping pills and a promiscuous encounter with a waitress in a restaurant, which led to the birth of an illegitimate child and his divorce.
Becker, who remarried in 2009 after proposing to Dutch model Sharlely "Lilly" Kerssenberg on a game show, has funneled his competitive juices into poker tournaments in recent years. In 2013, he announced plans to form the International Premier Tennis League, a circuit involving mixed teams of top players.
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