Tennis star Boris Becker talked about his time in British custody with emotional words and clearly changed (read the most important statements here). Interrupted again and again by tears and moments of emotion, the 55-year-old described life-threatening situations, very personal moments with his partner and a new spiritual path.
In his first public appearance since his release from prison, Becker clearly acknowledged his guilt for the first time. "Of course I was guilty," he said, showing self-criticism. "Maybe I didn't show enough remorse on the stand," he said. His lawyers tried everything to "save his life". He was advised what to say and what not to say. "It could have gone better - but it could also have gone a lot worse."
Becker, who comes from Leimen in Baden-Württemberg, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison by a court in London at the end of April because he had not properly declared parts of his assets in his insolvency proceedings. He was released on Thursday after 231 days behind bars.
In the interview with moderator Steven Gätjen, Becker looked much slimmer, his hair color was a little darker than before, and he also wore a black shirt under the black jacket. "Of course I lost a lot of weight," he said in the interview. "I went to prison with 97 kilos and then had almost 90 kilos."
Becker added: "I felt hungry for the first time in my life, so I went to bed hungry. I thought that at the age of 54 I had already experienced everything, but this was new." In prison he did not drink alcohol, did not smoke and ate very little for weeks or maybe months.
Becker also reported on two specific situations that were life-threatening. In Wandsworth Prison, a fellow inmate tried to blackmail him, but other inmates protected him.
A fellow inmate also threatened him in Huntercombe prison, west of the British capital, where Becker spent most of his seven-and-a-half-month imprisonment. "I really had a so-called altercation (violent argument) with a prisoner who wanted to kill me." The opponent was a man who killed two people when he was 18. "He wanted to do my laundry and verbally explained to me what he wanted to do with me." But in this case, too, other prisoners rushed to his aid. Again and again Becker tells of close friendships with fellow prisoners who would have protected and strengthened him.
Becker had been celebrated for years, a sports idol like very few. But in the years before his imprisonment, he was often ridiculed - now he seems composed, almost spiritual. Becker repeatedly said in the interview that he had dealt with the doctrine of Stoicism in prison and also taught it. "I made mistakes over the years, had the wrong friends, wasn't organized enough." In prison he had time to think and through stoicism rediscovered qualities that he had as a tennis player - such as discipline and presence at the moment. "This prison stay brought me back," said Becker. He has now been given a second chance and it is up to him to continue on this path.
Becker tried to keep his composure but kept stopping in tears — especially when it came to his children and his studio partner, Lilian De Carvalho Monteiro. The day of his conviction on April 29 was her birthday. His partner always stood by him. "I didn't have a moment when I felt like something was breaking up or she was losing patience or desire or love," said Becker.
The relationship with his older children Noah, Elias and Anna, with whom he often spoke on the phone, also became closer during his imprisonment. Before the judge's verdict, he also spoke extensively with his children. Like his partner Lilian, Noah accompanied him to the court at the verdict. The tennis star usually gave long answers in the interview - for example that he taught English and math behind bars, which gave his days structure.
Becker reported that several celebrity friends were not allowed to visit him in prison. For example, football coach Jürgen Klopp was rejected by the authorities. "Jürgen is not allowed to visit you because he is too well known. We are afraid for his safety and we don't want the hype," Becker reflected on the conversation. He drew courage and strength from numerous letters that fans and acquaintances sent him. There were also surprises among them: "Michael Stich wrote me a three-page letter," said Becker about his tennis colleague. That touched him very much. Other former Davis Cup friends and celebrities such as tennis coach Barbara Rittner also wrote to him.
After much guesswork, Becker said that after his deportation he ended up in Stuttgart and then stayed with friends near Heidelberg. "There was nobody at the airport," said Becker. The police then checked his papers and said: "Welcome back." When he arrived at his friends, the 55-year-old said: "I then had my first beer and - believe me - it was the best beer of my life." The first food in freedom was sushi, sashimi and miso soup.
He tends not to want to live in Germany because his privacy is not guaranteed there, he liked living in Miami. "I'm also a fan of Dubai," said Becker. "I have ideas, but I've become cautious about what I say about the future." Becker emphasized: "I'm happy, I'm motivated, I have to work."