A few weeks ago, bankrupt tennis legend Boris Becker was in court for hiding from his creditors, among other high-value acquisitions, the Wimbledon Cup he won as a 17-year-old. It was a heartbreaking part of Becker’s modernization of a world that even treats Lemon & Spoon race medals from school days as family heirlooms. You can feel its pain and you can understand its connection to the memories of its glorious past.
However, there was a sense of inevitability when the former Wimbledon champion was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison on Friday for avoiding paying a £3million loan on his luxury property in Mallorca, in Spain.
Those who lived through the summer of 1985 would never have wanted the strawberry-blonde German to give up the golden trophy he had won by risking his tip on those damn English meadows, only to be badly beaten. That day, he played the kind of tough tennis that made John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors look like former paddle-age superstars.
Rarely has a young person’s interest in the sports scene or his audacity been so promising. At 54, Baker has not grown up gracefully. Her tense and swollen face testifies to her unstable life, dangerous relationships, financial adventures and expensive dress flirtations.
Baker, like everyone else, must face the consequences of her actions, but it’s only for this magical night that she feels the law must stand in the way before her treasure.
Around the time Becker appeared in court to avoid jail time last month, the Wimbledon champion displayed another shock and upheaval in the tennis world. Ash Party, just 25, has announced that she no longer owns it and is retiring.
There is a common thread between Baker and Barty. They were both facing the blinding lights when they weren’t quite ready. But history shows that talented tennis players with disparate personalities and chalk-and-cheese perspectives reacted differently to the situation.
In her final goodbye on Instagram, Barty mentioned how last year’s Wimbledon title changed her both as a person and as an athlete. “It was my one and only dream that I wanted in tennis, which really changed my perspective and I had this feeling (about retirement) after Wimbledon and I talked to my husband about it a lot. team.”
If the 2021 Grand Slam on grass satiated the Queenslander, the Australian Open title two months ago quenched her thirst forever. For the multi-talented Party – a few years ago I hit Big Bash after some serious hitting sessions – it’s time to look for new challenges.
So Barty, unlike Becker, didn’t have the mental toughness to hold the Wimbledon title and play competitive tennis for almost two decades? Or Barty wanted more from her life, not eager to live out of the suitcase or follow the routine from the hotel to the playground throughout her youth.
Walking through Baker and Barty’s career paths provides insight into the changing sports ecosystem and the stars’ priorities. It also answers some important questions.
Baker’s Wimbledon 85 was a milestone in the game’s history far bigger than Barty’s 2021 title on grass. The German boy, in tight white shorts, trotted through Wimbledon Central as if in his living room. He would dive on the grass to hook air balls and roll quickly to get back on his feet and finish the race. Becker was someone unmatched in the world of tennis.
He was the country’s first Wimbledon winner. His trainer described it as “German engineering at its finest.” More than 50,000 Germans arrived in Lymen, Becker’s hometown of 10,000 people, to give him a warm welcome.
But Becker had his trainer Ion Tiriac by his side, a fearsome Romanian with a biker mustache known as the “Brasov Bulldozer” in the ring. Years later, Becker will remember the conversation he had with him after the Champions Ball, the appearance on British Morning Television and the call from the German Chancellor. Young Baker listened and drank in Teriyac’s wisdom. The coach listed the streak that would follow his success and how he should prepare to face the risks of glory.
It helped that Baker was wired in a different way. He had a deep philosophical understanding of fame. A few years ago, he explained that everyone wanted to become famous without understanding why he was striving. “I started playing tennis because I love the game, I loved the competition. The sideshow that happens when you win a big title is more important to others than to you.
He said the media and the fans – those who define fame – weren’t important to him. He said the newspapers could never imagine the effort he put in to win, and that he could do his best even in front of an empty center court because he loved the game and competition.
“At 18, I was multi-champion in Grand Slams, I had money in the bank, I was successful, I was famous, so why would I go back to 19, 20, 21 , 25 and 28? Because I love sports. If it was all about fame, money and fortune, I wouldn’t be playing at twenty-five.
So when Barty quit acting at the age of 25, does that mean she didn’t like the game that much? No, over time, sports sensitivities also change.
Baker also agrees. “When I was playing you lived so much in the moment, you can’t imagine now. There was no internet, no cell phone. We only had The Times, The Telegraph, The Mail Back then. It was a different kind of noise. There were no lectures. Long press, and there were no headlines.
The world has changed. In 2022, quitting smoking early was a declaration of love for the beloved sport. When attention creeps into personal life and endless corporate commitments, numbers-obsessed agents greatly overwhelm what was once a passion that can turn into a chore.
The sport can turn into a toxic absorption pit at the first sign of success, as social media turns every headline epilogue into a stuffy, accessible mess. Young athletes so bombarded will always struggle under the harsh and extreme spotlight, which can overwhelm the simple pleasures of hitting the ball with a bat, Becker might fall back on simple at the time.
Barty and young people today are more aware of the other side of early fame and learned to prioritize mental health. Maybe Becker had a longer and brighter playing career, but Barty had a better retirement plan.