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Becker to Launch Comeback at Australian Open

By Richard Pagliaro | Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Boris Becker is back in the game.

A month after he was released from a British prison, Hall of Famer Becker will make his tennis return as an analyst for Eurosport Germany's Australian Open coverage.

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The network tweeted the announcement along with this image of Becker and colleague Barbara Rittner.

Becker's return to the sport after spending eight months behind bars is cause for celebration for his many supporters, who say he's served his debt to society and deserves a second shot to rebuild his life and support his family.

Critics say seeing Becker go from a prison cell to a prime position as a Germany TV analyst in one month is another example of a two-tiered justice system that shows crime pays if you're rich and famous. Critics say Becker got a slap on the wrist for his crime and viewers will get a slap on the face seeing a convicted criminal as Grand Slam commentator.

Becker supporters say he served time in a real prison, not a country club jail for white-collar criminals, paid steep punishment for his crime and deserves a chance to earn a living and repay his creditors. Tennis fans love a great comeback story and Becker fans say the good work he did during his playing, coaching and commentary career should not be canceled because of financial mistakes he made.

Upon his release, Becker was immediately a man in media demand. Becker was paid several hundreds of thousands of dollars by a German TV network for his first interview after his release from prison.

The former world No. 1 was released from a British prison on December 15th after serving eight months of a two-and-a-half year sentence for bankruptcy fraud.

In the interview, Becker shared how fellow inmates saved his life.

“It can hardly be more brutal,” Becker said of prison life.

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Last April, the 55-year-old Becker was sentenced to prison for hiding about $3 Million in assets after his 2017 bankruptcy.

Following his early release, Becker boarded a private plane and returned to his native Germany. Upon landing, Boris gave his first interview about his harrowing life in prison to a Munich TV station. Becker shared fellow inmates saved his life responding to his screams after another prisoner cornered him and “wanted to kill me.”

“He underestimated that other inmates would come to my help and threaten him,” Becker said in the interview, adding he reconciled with his would-be murderer the next day. “And then the next day Ike asked if I would accept his apology. I could have rejected it.

"I encountered him in the laundry. He threw himself down to the ground and begged me for forgiveness. I raised him to his feet and hugged him. And I told him that I had great respect for him.”

The 55-year-old Becker was initially sent to Wandsworth prison, just a few miles from the Wimbledon Centre Court he once roamed. His first days of incarceration were scary with Becker saying he looked at the floor a lot to avoid potential conflicts and tried to blend in.

“I just looked at the floor a lot. I didn't want to look anyone in the eye and upset them. It was extremely dangerous and extremely dirty,” Becker said. “It's just cell after cell and you meet all sorts in there, all criminals from London, murderers, child molesters, drug dealers and rapists.

“I was body searched, because they look for drugs and parts of mobile telephones and then my picture was taken and some people wanted to have their picture taken with me.”

Becker said he was initially concerned sharing a cell and said his cell did not have a mirror for fear inmates could break the glass and use it as a weapon. He describes his emotional state as “desperate and afraid” during his first week of prison.

Becker, who says he attended prison church daily, emerged from the experience insisting he’s humbled. The former server-and-volleyer looks thinner and fitter and said “prison was good for my health.”

The former world No. 1 reports he entered prison weighing about 214 pounds and exited weighing 198.

An enforced absence from alcohol helped Becker, who conceded past battles with alcohol and pills, drop the weight.

“I went to jail weighing 97 kilograms and later I was 90, but since then a few kilograms have been added. Prison was good for my health, there was no alcohol except home-made schnapps,” Becker said.

Reuniting with his girlfriend, Lilian, and son, Noah, for the interview, Boris also had an emotional embrace with his 87-year-old mother Elvira, who has stood by her son throughout his sad fall from grace.

In his TV interview, Becker vowed to thank all of the people who sent letters of support, including Michael Stich, Becker’s former rival and doubles partner when the pair won the Olympic gold medal back in 1992. Stitch’s supportive letter was “an emotional ace” that “gave me strength” Becker said.

In a New Year's post on Instagram, Becker thanked his family and fans who stood in support during his prison stint.

Photo credit: Novak Djokovic Instagram