Boris Becker: ‘When I was winning at Wimbledon it was no “blitzkrieg”’

I’m mentally constant. It comes from my upbringing. My mom was a troublesome cookie; my dad was a tough employee. They had been each 10 when the struggle ended, and people first few years residing in Germany had been very troublesome for them. This psychological consistency has helped me navigate the ups and downs of life. It’s additionally helped me keep grounded when I’ve been winning. I’m by no means too happy or pleased and I’m by no means too determined. I’ve tried to all the time preserve a center floor.

I didn’t all the time assume I was going to make it. I broke my ankle in 1984, throughout my first skilled match, enjoying in opposition to Billy Scanlon. My mother and father didn’t need me to grow to be a tennis professional, and when I referred to as my mom she mentioned to me, “I told you so, you should have stayed in school.” I questioned myself quite a bit in the course of the subsequent few months of my rehab. That’s whenever you learn the way a lot you need it.

I was a tennis participant, not a soldier. And I was simply 17. I didn’t perceive why the papers had been writing what they had been writing about me. When I was winning at Wimbledon it was no “blitzkrieg”. I was no “panzer”. But newspapers will write what they need in an effort to promote papers. Germany and England have a love-hate relationship after which I come alongside, a really German-looking man enjoying highly effective tennis. Things modified when individuals acquired to know me, not the thought of me.

As a participant, typically my feelings acquired the higher of me. I look again and typically want I’d managed these feelings higher. But I do assume that I gained extra due to that emotion than I misplaced due to it.

Tennis is a really logical sport. I’ve all the time tried to instil that information in gamers I’ve coached. You don’t win a sport of tennis by luck or without warning. If you comply with the foundations and also you’re bodily match, you’re going to win extra video games than you lose. Tennis is likely one of the few sports activities the place you solely need to defeat the opposite man.

It’s necessary to be taught to manage your feelings and to not surrender the combat till the final level is performed. That’s what Roger [Federer] and Rafa [Nadal] have gotten. Novak [Djokovic] may write the ebook about that. I love Djokovic’s angle. He’s like a road fighter. But when I began teaching him, I took the time to get to know the particular person away from the participant. The particular person could be very totally different to the participant you see on the courtroom. The participant is mechanical, even chilly. But he’s the alternative in non-public. He’s acquired essentially the most endearing character you’ll find. I all the time discovered it intriguing how these two personalities can exist inside one particular person.

I may speak at size about why Britain doesn’t produce the best gamers. A number of coaches choose their gamers as a result of they’ve a pleasant forehand, however you may be taught that. You can’t be taught angle. Look at Andy [Murray]. He’s not essentially the most gifted however he’s acquired the guts of a lion. He’s devoted, he’s acquired a mom who is aware of quite a bit in regards to the sport, he’s acquired a gifted brother. That’s a pleasant bundle. I ponder whether among the junior gamers have the correct angle.

I’m happy that sport is beginning to perceive psychological well being. There’s been plenty of dialogue about Naomi Osaka pulling out of the French Open due to bouts of despair. It’s very worrying, I assume the battle is actual. It’s simpler mentioned than completed – with winning comes expectations and tasks – however feeling good about your self will all the time be extra necessary than winning. The tennis group has to verify they’re not placing gamers below an excessive amount of stress.

Boris Becker is a part of the BBC’s Wimbledon 2021 line-up, now on TV, radio and on-line

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