WHAT is there to believe of the Boris Becker bankruptcy case?
And does Becker, the youngest man to win Wimbledon, deserve to be jailed after being found guilty in a London court of four charges under the UK’s Insolvency Act?
Answer to question one is ‘who the hell knows’ – as a jury, while dismissing a further nine charges, clearly thought he had hidden assets from his bankruptcy conviction in 2017.
And question two? the conviction carries a maximum sentence of seven years – and any other convicted person, would surely almost certainly be jailed.
Let’s remember that Becker has two previous convictions for tax evasion and attempted tax evasion in Germany, where he failed to repay a £4million loan on his Mallorca estate.
So quite how Becker got himself into such a financial mess is still unknown – given he earned around $52 million in prize money and sponsorship during his career.
Defence barrister Jonathan Laidlaw argued that Becker had been poorly advised, with his finances managed “chaotically.”
Some of Becker’s trophies were auctioned off for $900,000, including two of his three Wimbledon trophies, his Olympic medals from 1992 and two Australian Open trophies.
Becker in his defence said he had been unable to locate them.
The prosecution, led by Rebecca Chalkley, said the defence claims were “not credible” and dismissed attempts to blame his advisors saying “the obligations and duties were with him.”
The court was told Becker received 1.13 million euros (about $1.2m) from the sale of a Mercedes car dealership he owned in Germany, which was paid into an account that was used as his “piggy bank”.
Alex Jay, the head of insolvency and asset recovery at litigation firm Stewarts, told the UK newspaper The Guardian Becker’s case was rare.
Make no mistake, being found guilty in a criminal court of bankruptcy offences is quite rare.Alex Jay, head of insolvency at London Litigation lawyers Stewarts
“Most people, when bankrupted, co-operate with the bankruptcy process, at least to a degree that doesn’t result in criminal charges being brought and proved.
“The level of Mr Becker’s attempts to frustrate the process, and avoid repaying his creditors, must therefore have been quite exceptional.”
And to add more intrigue to the story, Becker had previously claimed he was immune from bankruptcy proceedings because he held a diplomatic passport issued by the Central African Republic.
The country denied that, stating the passport was fake.
“I don’t know what is internally happening within the politics of the country but I have received the passport from the ambassador,” he told the BBC.
“I have spoken to the president on many occasions. I believe the documents they have given me must be right.”
In 2019 he dropped this line of defence.
The 54-year-old Becker is now on bail awaiting sentencing on April 29.
So could he go to jail? Yes!
AND so to the clay season …
Naomi Osaka last week said she would be looking to Rafa Nadal as she prepares for the upcoming clay-court swing.
Probably no better person to take stock from as we head to Paris next month.
SERENA Williams returning to the big stage soon?
NFL great Aaron Rodgers thinks so.
Rogers and Williams met up at the Bitcoin 2022 Conference in Miami last week where Williams said: “We’ve been talking about my comeback and he’s been hyping me up and getting me ready for Wimbledon.”
Rodgers then asked “Wimbledon?”
Responded Williams, “Yeah, I thought you knew?”
Rodgers, clearly unsure of the tennis diary, then asked: “What about US Open?”
“Wimbledon’s before the US Open, I gotta play Wimbledon first!” Williams replied.
Rodgers ended the clip by declaring: “she’s baaack.”
Williams last appeared at Wimbledon last June, where a leg injury forced her to retire in the first set of her opening match with Aliaksandra Sasnovich.
Wimbledon runs from June 27-July 10.
MEANWHILE, On Thursday, it was announced that her longtime coach Patrick Mouratoglou would work alongside another former world No. 1, Simona Halep.
Mouratoglou confirmed the coaching split on social media late on Thursday saying “door opened for me, at least short term” after a discussion with Williams.
CONGRATULATIONS to former world No.4 Kiki Bertens and her husband Remko de Rijke welcomed their first child, a son named Mats.
FROM tennis superstar to author, Ash Barty has revealed her latest career move.
Barty is releasing a series of children’s books titled Little Ash in partnership with Jasmin McGaughey through publisher HarperCollins, with there first set to hit bookstores on July 6.
“It’s the day of the tennis tournament and Ash is so excited to compete! But Ash forgets her favourite hat, there’s a flat tyre and Ash wonders how they will ever get there! Will Ash arrive in time for her big match?” the synopsis for Little Ash: Tennis Rush! reads.
Barty also plans to release a memoir of her rise to become world No.1 later this year.
And the rumours of a switch to golf?
She told the Brisbane Courier Mail she had a ‘good laugh’ about that, adding she was just happy playing casual games on weekends.
WILL Nick Kyrgios ever learn?
The firebrand Aussie is a box office hit around the tennis tour, but his behaviour just isn’t, well, it just isn’t tennis.
Kyrgios was fined a total of $60,000 after outbursts at both Indian Wells and the Miami Open recently and Alexander Zverev was another bad boy, kicked out of the Mexican Open after hitting the umpire’s chair with his racquet.
Now the ATP wants to increase the fines for ‘on-court misconduct’ with ATP boss Andrea Gaudenzi telling players in a leaked email that tier incidents shone a bad light on the game.
“Effective immediately and as we head into the clay court swing, the ATP officiating team has been directed to take a stricter stance in judging violations of the code of conduct,” ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said.
Will it stop the childish racquet smashing antics of Kyrgios, and perhaps a few others?
Or will ticket sales continue to rise?
UK government figures are trying to push the All England Club – which hosts Wimbledon – to ban players from Russia and Belarus from this year’s event.
Russian and Belarusian players have continued playing in ATP, WTA and ITF competitions under a neutral flag, with almost all publicly standing against the war in Ukraine.
“We have noted the UK Government’s guidance regarding the attendance of Russian and Belarusian individuals in a neutral capacity at sporting events in the UK, the All England Club said in a statement last week.
“We plan to announce a decision in relation to Wimbledon ahead of our entry deadline in mid-May.”
Wimbledon is a private members club – and has the right to admit – or ban – anyone it sees fit to.
UK sports minister Nigel Huddleston was clear in his thoughts when pressed by British media.
“Would I be comfortable with a Russian athlete flying the Russian flag? No,” he said.
“Absolutely nobody flying the flag for Russia should be allowed or enabled.
“When it comes to individuals, that gets a bit more complex so we are looking at and talking to various sports in terms of what the response and requirements should be there.”
Should the tournament implement such a ban, Daniil Medvedev and Victoria Azarenka would be two who would not be able to participate.
Medvedev is currently the highest ranked player at risk. He is already a doubt for the French Open after recent hernia surgery.
Andrey Rublev, Karen Khachanov and Aslan Karatsev could also miss out.
The women’s draw could be without Belarusians Azarenka and Aryna Sabalenka who are in the WTA’s top 20.
Wimbledon is set to begin on June 27.
AND finally …
AFTER British success in New York last year – remember one Emma Raducanu – there’s another exciting prospect on the horizon.
Mimi Xu spends her evenings dreaming of playing at Wimbledon, and at 14, she just might make it this year.
Xu won the LTA Under-18 Junior National Championships on Friday, and the Welsh-born teenager has been handed a wildcard into the qualifying competition for Wimbledon.
“Playing in the Grand Slam events is what we all dream about and I can’t wait to play the Wimbledon qualifying now,” Xu said after her national title win.
“I have been playing well and I’m so happy to come through. The first set was a good level from me and then Talia raised her game. I am back for the under-16s next week and hopefully I can play well again.”