Boris Becker


He appeared in the summer of 1985 on the west side of London Town–leaping and rolling about the green summer grass of The All England Club like an exuberant Golden Retriever high on Jolt cola. Unseeded, unheralded, unbelievable. 17 years old and he won the fucking thing.  He was a big man, but he moved like a point guard weaving around in the paint. His serve was devastating, and his long reach and willingness to sacrifice his knees and elbows for the sake of the next point made him a virtual Berlin Wall at the net.

Bud Collins called him “Boom-Boom” because those serves and volleys could rock his opponents like shots from the gloves of Raymond Mancini, but Boris himself never liked that moniker. He and Steffi Graf were the king and queen of an 80s-90s German royal family of tennis that would grow to include Michael Stich and Anke Huber. A real Oktoberfest for the sport!

My favorite male tennis player of this era was Pat Cash, but I loved watching Boris play. Everybody did. Not to mention his Ellesse gear was sick. (No 80s athletic brand is more underrated.) He was one of the undisputed superstars of the day.

The Berlin Wall eventually came down, and so did Boris once he stopped whacking that yellow ball around. His financial problems are legendary and his stand-up broom closet bang with a waitress in a London restaurant is one of the most vividly evocative celebrity misdeeds ever. As he ages, he physically looks more and more like a German version of Danny Bonaduce. But he gave us a lot, and the goodwill he amassed during his salad days will never completely be spent.

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