Boris Becker reveals threats from inmates and feels starved for the first time in prison
Tennis great Boris Becker has tearfully recounted the moment the door to his single-occupancy cell at Britain’s Wandsworth prison was first shut, speaking publicly after serving eight months for bankruptcy offences.
“It was the loneliest moment I’ve ever had in life,” Becker said in an interview with German TV channel SAT.1 that aired on Tuesday, recalling how hours earlier he had been unable to bid farewell to his loved ones before being led downstairs to the courtroom jail.
The three-time Wimbledon champion was sentenced to 30 months in prison in April for illicit transfer of large sums of money and concealment of assets after being declared bankrupt. Becker would normally have had to serve half his sentence before being eligible for release, but he was released earlier under an expedited deportation program for foreign nationals.
Becker, who was deported to his native Germany on December 15, said he prayed daily in the three weeks between his conviction and sentencing, aware that there was a chance he might get away with it. not suspended.
Arriving in Wandsworth, Becker, 55, said he feared attacks from other inmates.
“The many movies I’ve seen before haven’t helped,” he said.
Becker said prison authorities appeared to have tried to keep him safe, assigning him a single cell and bringing in three experienced inmates — or “auditors” — to guide him through his new life behind bars.
That included dealing with the lack of food, Becker said, as prison fare was largely limited to rice, potatoes and gravy. The “Sunday roasts” consisted of a chicken drumstick, he said.
“I felt hungry for the first time in my life,” said Becker, who won the first multi-million dollar as a player aged 17.
Violence was a problem, he said, recounting instances at Wandsworth and later at HMP Huntercombe where inmates threatened to harm him until others intervened.
Known for his showmanship in the field, Becker said he immersed himself in Stoic philosophy in prison and took the opportunity to teach math and English to other prisoners, although he is German.
In November, fellow inmates managed to arrange three chocolate cakes for her birthday, Becker said.
“I’ve never experienced such solidarity in the free world,” Becker said, adding that he planned to keep in touch with friends he made in prison.
For Becker, who shot to fame in 1985 at the age of 17 when he became the first unranked player to win the men’s singles title at Wimbledon, the prison sentence was a heavy blow.
Asked about the judge’s statement that Becker showed ‘no humility’, he acknowledged in the interview that ‘maybe I should have (be) even more clear, more emotional’ during the trial .
Becker also admitted his fault.
“Of course I was guilty,” he said of the four out of 29 counts on which he was found guilty.
Still, Becker said he “could have been a lot worse”.
After retiring from professional tennis in 1999, the six-time Grand Slam champion worked as a coach, TV pundit, investor and celebrity poker player.
Now he hopes to turn over a new leaf and avoid mistakes he’s made in the past – many of which have been blamed on laziness and bad financial advice from others that led to his bankruptcy in 2017.
“It’s up to me to continue down this path and stay true to myself,” he said. “I believe prison was good for me.”
Becker said he and his partner Lilian De Carvalho Monteiro are unlikely to stay in Germany, where confidentiality is difficult to maintain. Instead, he suggested Miami or Dubai could become his next home.
But the former world No. 1’s time out of the limelight is unlikely to last long.
Organizers of the annual Berlinale said on Tuesday that next year’s film festival will premiere an as-yet-untitled documentary about Becker by Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney, with a likely red carpet appearance by the protagonist.
The Huffington Gt