Tennis has many great personalities even today, from family man Roger Federer, to Novak Djokovic who comes from a war-torn country and has risen through sheer hard work. What it doesn’t have is players misbehaving on court and that’s not a bad thing. I am one of those who used to break racquets, scream and behave badly and I am embarrassed to see (recordings of) some of my matches,” said Boris Becker, the tennis legend who is as famous for his fast moves as for his histrionics on court.
At the 10th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit on Saturday, held at the Taj Palace Hotel, Becker spoke candidly about his triumphs — he was a Wimbledon winner at 17, a record unbroken even today — and his wild life — from living in Monte Carlo, driving fast cars very fast and the infamous Nobu controversy, his escapade with a model in a hotel that ended his marriage but, which he doesn’t consider a “mistake” because it gave him his beloved daughter.
Becker, whom Indian tennis ace Vijay Amritraj had titled “Boom Boom Boris”, a name that stuck, however, told The Indian Express that “at 45, he is older and wiser today”. His advice to youngsters playing tennis is almost grandfatherly, “There is no short cut in tennis. You need a clear head on your shoulders, discipline, love and respect for the game. Then, perhaps, you’ll win.” He added that the world tennis fraternity is concerned that “17 or 18-year-olds with a lot of talent are somehow not breaking through (into the big league)”.
“The players who start to win are in their early twenties today. This is not because the teenagers of today don’t have physical stability; it could be that they don’t have mental stability,” said the man who started playing professionally as a teenager and was a millionaire twice over by the age of 18. Time and again, Becker mentioned Federer much as an eager fan would, though he joked that the current Wimbledon champion would “absolutely not” be able to defeat him. Now, Becker is a family man himself, who doesn’t coach anymore because he no longer wants the “life on the road”.