Becker: What Is Tennis Compared to Prison, the First and Last Night I Didn't Sleep



by SEDEDIN DEDOVIC

Becker: What Is Tennis Compared to Prison, the First and Last Night I Didn't Sleep
© Clive Brunskill / Getty Images

Boris Becker, the iconic tennis figure, has made a triumphant return to the sport after a hiatus spent grappling with legal troubles. Having served time in prison for fraud, Becker has resurfaced not as a player but as the mentor to rising star Holger Rune, signaling a new chapter in his tennis journey.

While his absence from the court was conspicuous, his reentry into the tennis arena has been characterized by a demeanor that reflects resilience and a newfound perspective. In a recent interview with "L'Équipe," Becker displayed a profound sense of irony when confronted with complaints from contemporary players about the pressures and inconveniences of the sport.

Drawing from his own tumultuous experiences, he chuckled at complaints about match pressure, tournament food, and training conditions. "It's nothing compared to my time in prison. I didn't sleep a second the first night and the last night," Becker remarked candidly, providing a stark contrast between the challenges of tennis and the hardships he endured behind bars.

Having spent eight months in a UK prison for financial misconduct, Becker's sentence was originally slated for 2.5 years, but he was granted clemency for good behavior and returned to Germany on Christmas Eve. Reflecting on his time incarcerated, Becker unearthed unexpected positives.

"I discovered the person I used to be. I learned a hard lesson, very expensive and very painful. Some things happen for a reason, and the whole story has a very important note — good for me because I learned a lot," he revealed.

His celebrity status, once paramount in the tennis world, dissipated within the confines of prison, where he became just a number, stripped of external identifiers. Yet, the experience seems to have fueled a personal transformation, evident in his current demeanor.

Now back in the realm of rackets and balls, Becker has seamlessly transitioned into a coaching role, guiding Rune to notable success. Under Becker's tutelage, Rune, previously grappling with a lackluster performance, reached the semifinals in Federer's hometown and engaged in two closely contested matches against Novak Djokovic in Paris and Turin.

Becker's return not only marks a resurgence in his connection to the sport but also serves as a testament to his ability to find redemption and impart invaluable lessons, both on and off the court.

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