“Boom! Boom! The world against Boris Becker”
The tennis legend as a kind of doctor. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?
The documentary “Boom! Boom! The World Against Boris Becker” starts on April 7. What new does she have to offer about the tennis legend?
“How hard is it for someone so young to keep in touch with reality?” Journalists asked themselves this question in 1985, when a tennis club from Lymen, Germany, which did not have international documents, suddenly won Wimbledon. The new two-part AppleTV+ documentary Boom! Boom! The world against Boris Becker” (from April 7) about an exceptional athlete is dedicated to his unprecedented rise to the first place in the ATP world ranking.
In the context of Becker’s delayed bankruptcy sentencing in 2022, she also raises the question of whether Becker, now 55, has ever been able to regain his allegedly lost touch with reality. With a dual narrative structure and divided into two sections, Triumph and Catastrophe, the documentary illuminates the life of its protagonist, who seems to always oscillate between extremes. There are many Dr. Jekyll – but so does Mr. Hyde every now and then.
At an age when ordinary youngsters are having panic attacks about driving uphill in driving school, Becker was 17 on Center Court at Wimbledon in the final against veteran Kevin Curren – and won as the first German and the youngest player ever to win. He secured his legendary status at the latest when he was even able to defend the title the following year.
The first part of the documentary, subtitled “Triumph”, focuses on Becker’s dazzling past, with a few exceptions that focus on the present – a classic underdog’s heroic journey. But it is also the basis for the second part, entitled Catastrophe, which ultimately discusses the sentence for deferred insolvency. Because feeling invincible, as Becker did at his best, also opened the door to a good mood — first on the tennis court and then off it.
Part two is still a long time coming
True, “Catastrophe” takes a long time to do this. Contrary to its subtitle, the nearly two-hour portion of the documentary initially focuses on Becker’s tennis success. It only comes down to the last 45 minutes, which are mostly about finances and family.
Separation from first wife Barbara Becker (56)? Not primarily because of his connection with Anzhela Yermakova (55), but because of Barbara’s behavior afterwards: “In every discussion she pulled out this joker and told me to shut up: ‘If the world knew what you did, you I’ll still lose.” He replied, “You’re right, but that’s not the kind of relationship I can have. It is impossible. I said, “Barbara, I think we need a break.”
The circumstances that brought Becker to the attention of the British authorities? “I hold myself responsible for that,” says Becker. At the same time, however, he also reveals that, from his point of view, there are various people who are at least as much to blame for his suffering. Becker’s iconic former coach Ion Thiriac (83) sums it up pragmatically at one point in the documentary: “The boy wanted to play,” but at this point he’s not talking about the tennis court, but the money market. And it is teeming with people who only want good things on purpose.
On paper, Boom! Boom! The World vs. Boris Becker is divided into the rise and fall of tennis greats. In reality, however, Alex Gibney’s (69) documentary focuses largely on the remarkable career of its protagonist – both as a player and later as a coach. The final minutes of a total of three and a half hours of material, which actually discusses Becker’s bankruptcy, are allegedly explosive – but primarily from Becker’s point of view.
But his early release from prison at the end of last year already gave him the opportunity to express his point of view on this sensitive topic several times. As a result, Boom!