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HindustanTimes Fri,18 Apr 2014

HT Leadership Stories

Getting to know the champ's other side
Sharmistha Chaudhuri, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, November 17, 2012
First Published: 23:56 IST(17/11/2012)
Last Updated: 00:04 IST(18/11/2012)

Boom Boom! "That's only for the game," came the quick reply. Accustomed to having newspapers and magazines calling him by the nickname for over two decades, Boris Becker explained how he got it. "It was all because of Vijay Amritraj, Mr. James Bond himself. He told me that I hit the ball very fast. 'I have to call you Boom Boom', he said. And the name stuck!" he explained.

As much as his on-court achievements, it was Becker's private life that found its way into the gossip columns, relished by fans worldwide. "I've made mistakes, I admit. In hindsight, I could have been better to Barbara (his first wife)," the 44-year-old said. Any non-tennis fan would definitely have heard about the infamous 'broom cupboard affair' at London's famous Nobu restaurant. "All I will say is that I proudly stand by my 12-year-old daughter," Becker said recalling that encounter. "It was just after I had lost my last professional match… But come on, there is no broom cupboard. It was just something else," he said, flashing his trademark smile.

Racist problem
Didn't his first marriage to Barbara Feltus lead to racist taunts in Germany? "I was always attracted to the opposite… Initially I didn't think the colour of skin affected people in Germany but I realised it later. Those were difficult days for the two of us. Of course, I was vocal about the matter. Today the world has moved on, matured but unfortunately, racism still exists," the youngest Wimbledon champion said.

Many around the world call Becker their idol, but whom did he hail as a youngster? "Bjorn Borg. He was my hero. Maybe that's why I've done so well at Wimbledon because that was his Mecca.

His idols
"Other than tennis I thought Muhammad Ali was an idol because of his ability to transcend generations. Michael Jordan is not far behind. At one point in time, every bedroom wall was decorated with his poster," the six-time Grand Slam champ, who made headlines for chopping his hair during a match! ("It blocked my view as I went for a backhand!")

The one issue which has persisted since his playing days is the debate whether to have a shorter ATP season. "It's a messed up system. Either you have a short season with less tournaments or a longer one so players don't have to play every other week. It's the same dilemma I faced as a pro."


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