It’s been decades since tennis sensation Boris Becker made international headlines. In those days, he was a phenom on the court, capturing the attention of tennis fans the world over as he won multiple Wimbledon titles. The recent mention of Becker in the headlines paints a very different picture.
Becker is embroiled in a bankruptcy case, and his attorneys are making what some are calling a highly unconventional argument: their client is immune to prosecution thanks to diplomatic immunity. The explanation for this argument hinges on how the courts view Becker’s time as an unpaid attache for the Central African Republic, a position Becker started back in April. Becker’s representatives say this role should protect him from having to face the bankruptcy actions.
While it’s a unique claim, some experts quoted by the Associated Press say the legal argument has decent standing. Mark Stephens said: “Central African Republic should be asked to revoke his immunity for this particular case because it relates to his personal activities and predates his appointment and in no way relates to his diplomatic function… That would let the court case proceed.”
It’s an interesting case for the courts to decide, and the timeline is key to the issue. Becker has lived in Britain for some time, and he declared for bankruptcy protection in 2017, long before he took the attache position. Becker has been very outspoken about the proceedings, accusing the courts of unjust actions and for allowing a “bunch of anonymous and unaccountable bankers and bureaucrats” to damage him. Calling the proceedings “a farce,” Becker vowed to fight and work to “rebuild my life.”
From a PR perspective, the unique argument, spiced up by the dramatic declarations and accusations coming from Becker, have proven to be an irresistible story for the news media. The more outrageous the nature of Becker’s accusations, the bigger and more prominent the headlines. That may not be the direction Becker wants this story to go.
For the most part, tennis fans remember his prowess on the court. This episode is adding a strange asterisk to Becker’s legacy. Instead of remembering him as a superstar and sports hero, headlines are redefining him as a man obsessed with finding a way to control legal proceedings he, himself started. If the actions had been managed in relative quiet, they may not have attracted so much attention. Now, though, they have, and it will take more than loud accusations and claims that the rules don’t apply to him for Becker to regain the narrative.