It goes beyond the tennis and the headlines to reveal the real Becker through the eyes of those closest to him – many speaking to us exclusively and for the first time. These include his estranged second wife, Sharlely Becker, former fiancée Alessandra Meyer-Woelden and ex-girlfriend Caroline Rocher.
The two films track Becker’s rise from his childhood on the dusty tennis courts of his hometown, Leimen in Germany, to his astounding victories at Queen’s Club and Wimbledon in 1985 aged just 17 and onwards to become world number one. This is woven together with the present tense story of his fall – his divorce, bankruptcy court case and subsequent prison sentence.
The contributors are a mix of well-known names drawn from competitors on the tennis circuit like Pat Cash, Kevin Curren and Tim Mayotte to family, friends and close advisors like his first coach and father-figure Gunther Bosch who tried – and failed – to prevent his spectacular fall from grace. This is illustrated by rarely seen archive from the time and previously unseen family photos and footage belonging to Sharlely Becker.
Sharlely, mother of the tennis star’s youngest son, gives us extraordinary insights into what life with Becker was like. Afraid that Spanish police would confiscate the costly collection of animals in the grounds of his Majorcan finca, he hid them in the house – including a horse in the marital bedroom.
She also details how Becker threw her and their young son out of his rented Wimbledon house with nowhere to go. The waiting media outside helped her pick up her possessions and took her to a local hotel.
Meanwhile, Becker’s one time fiancée, Alessandra – daughter of the star’s former manager, whom he first met when she was just 14 – recounts how Becker first pursued her, then brutally dropped her by text to marry Sharlely.
Becker’s relationship with women has always been controversial and was a trigger for his downfall. The films include an interview with former News of the World journalist Amanda Evans, who broke the story of the infamous ‘Nobu broom cupboard’ tryst, which resulted in the birth of Becker’s love child, Anna. The star originally denied paternity until a DNA test confirmed it. The scandal lead to a costly Miami divorce from his first wife, Barbara.
Confidantes and commentators shed light on the deals Becker was doing with the press in order to control his own narrative and on how he was the first tennis star to earn serious money from a game which has made contemporary champions like Djokovic and Federer vastly wealthy today. Becker, who was deluged with offers of sponsorship after his Wimbledon wins, is said by an insider to have made in the region of 125 million euros during his career.
Other contributors include Samuel Burstyn and Robert Kohlman – the lawyers in Boris and Barbara’s divorce - and Rebecca Chalkley KC, the British prosecutor who put Becker behind bars for two and a half years for hiding £2.5m in assets, a sentence from which he was released after serving eight months and flown back to Germany by the media in a private jet.
Boris Becker: The Rise and Fall is, above all, a story of the corrupting power of money, sex, fame – and farce.