Boris Becker arriving at Wimbledon, A ‘domestic incident’ is said to have taken place at the £24,000-a-month home he shares with his estranged wife Lilly
The clock has passed 10pm on a hot July night at Boris Becker’s mansion — a magnificent £5 million new-build pile in a prime location opposite Wimbledon Common.
It is a fine property that is thought to be rented for a staggering £24,000 a month, and is said to have an Andy Warhol on the wall, among other pieces of art.
Nosy neighbours are deterred by a 6ft-tall black steel electric gate and manicured hedge, but clearly some drama is in progress.
In fact, police are attending, having been called to a ‘domestic incident’ between 50-year-old former Wimbledon champion Boris and his second wife, Dutch model Lilly, 42.
The pair announced some weeks before that they were separating, but because it is Wimbledon fortnight and Boris is commentating, he has been staying at the house.
The officers leave after ‘giving advice’ to the warring couple, without making any arrests.
So what on earth happened on the evening of Wednesday, July 11?
Lilly’s uncle Edley, who is staying at the marital home in Wimbledon, said this week that she ‘would not want to make any comment’, and her management team did not respond to requests for an interview.
However, one of her friends says: ‘According to Lilly, Boris is a moaner and seems to be very bitter about his life and how it has turned out. She feels that he blames other people for his problems.’
The German former tennis star is currently mired in legal worries, as bankruptcy proceedings have been brought against him.
‘He has been down, fighting a lot of battles. He has become morose and a bit of an old man. It was “night and day” compared to what he was like when Lilly met him, and she wanted out,’ said her friend.
‘People assume that he must have been unfaithful to her because of his reputation, but that is not what I hear at all. The problem was more his negativity.
‘As for that night when the police were called — she is embarrassed about whatever happened at the house and won’t talk about it.’
Dutch model Lilly, 42, who reportedly ‘ripped the photos of her and Boris from the walls’ at their Wimbledon home
However, the German media have presented a version of the evening’s events.
According to Bild newspaper, Lilly was at home looking after their son, Amadeus, eight, while Boris was commentating at Wimbledon.
A friend of hers was supposedly present, and as Lilly told her about the break-up, she became highly emotional and ‘ripped the photos of her and Boris from the walls’.
Apparently, according to Bild, it was Boris who phoned the police when he returned home.
What a contrast to the manicured lawns and polite hubbub at the All England Club!
Later, the Metropolitan Police confirmed that officers visited the home in Wimbledon for a ‘domestic incident’.
It added that no one was arrested but that advice, thought to concern behaviour and possible legal consequences, had been given.
After such an ugly incident, it seems little surprise that he and Lilly, already separated, are now heading for a divorce.
Lilly’s management is complaining that Boris’s side won’t discuss maintenance, which doesn’t bode well. ‘Unfortunately, Mr Becker is currently blocking any communication on the subject of maintenance,’ her team told Bild.
You can understand why Boris might be wary about a looming divorce settlement, since he lost a reported £10 million chunk of his fortune in his first divorce from Barbara Feltus — and the question of his liquidity is a pressing concern right now.
All in all, it’s a sorry end to the marriage — one which Boris once said signalled he had finally grown up.
‘I’ve changed, there is a new chapter starting,’ he promised on the eve of their 2009 wedding.
Now he just shrugs that notching up nine years is quite an achievement — in the showbiz milieu he inhabits, anyway.
When they wed, he was shaking off triple misfortunes: the scandal of the baby fathered in a stairwell at the London restaurant Nobu while his pregnant wife Barbara was in hospital, their subsequent divorce, and his conviction for tax evasion in 2002.
Now, as his second marriage ends, he is once again experiencing financial worries — though he is pulling every possible stunt to wriggle away from it, including getting a diplomatic passport from the Central African Republic.
This gives him diplomatic immunity, and will protect him from attempts to make him repay money he allegedly owes.
I have learned that this matter is due in court again next week, and that the judge in his bankruptcy case will be asking for further proof that Boris has diplomatic immunity because of a humanitarian mission.
He was declared bankrupt in June last year. The situation is complex, but the judge hearing the case said of him: ‘One has the impression of a man with his head in the sand.’
The sum owed to a private bank is said to be £3 million, which seems pretty measly given that he was once supposed to be worth £160 million. His biographer remarks that he is better at tennis than business.
Lilly arriving at Argos where she bought boxes in preparation for moving out of the home she shares with Becker
An Argos worker loads boxes into Lilly’s car as she prepares to pack up and leave the home she shares with the tennis star
Becker at his home in Wimbledon, a magnificent £5 million new-build pile in a prime location opposite Wimbledon Common
At the end of May this year, the trustees in bankruptcy applied to extend the bankruptcy term, which is normally 12 months.
Boris then announced that he had the diplomatic passport. Last month, he claimed to be motivated by genuine humanitarian fervour.
He will be back in court next week to provide more details about his diplomatic role, and believes that the bankruptcy proceedings are ‘unjustified and unjust’.
In the meantime, plans to sell off some of his tennis trophies have been put on hold.
Boris regards this as the first victory — and thinks that more will follow. ‘Finally some good news!’ he tweeted.
This week, another intriguing prospect emerged, for it now looks possible that Boris will be among the contestants on BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing this year.
I can reveal that he was spotted on Thursday dining at members’ club The Ned in the City of London with Strictly professional dancer Karen Clifton (who separated from her dancer husband Kevin in March).
Perhaps they were swapping sob stories about their impending divorces, or maybe they were discussing the finer points of the pasodoble.
The show is known for paying participating celebrities well, with around £70,000 on offer for those who make it to the final weeks of the competition — and if his bankruptcy has been discharged by then, that will surely be an attractive prospect for him.
The outlook on the domestic front, however, is less encouraging.
His estranged wife Lilly says that after nine years she is ‘no longer prepared to put up with his whims’, according to the German magazine Bunte.
Having met in Miami in 2005, the couple wed in Switzerland four years later in a ceremony publicised with a spread in Hello! magazine (whose curse has struck once again).
The newlyweds then settled in London, in well-heeled Wimbledon — the site of his three championship triumphs.
It’s there that they raised Amadeus, who they clearly dote upon.
But that has not been enough to keep them together.
It seems the ‘boom boom’ —Boris’s on-court nickname as a powerful young player — went out of the marriage some time ago.
More specifically, Lilly complains that Boris, who still has a manly charisma which reduces some interviewers to jelly, has not been directing much of it her way.
She says that her husband has instead been ‘mean’ to her ‘for a long time’.
Among her grievances is that when she went on a reality TV show expedition abroad, he failed to send her a recorded message of support.
Happier times: The Beckers embrace on a beach in Formentera, Spain, in 2013
Lilly said in June: ‘It hurts so incredibly. Separation is the only solution, at least to save our relationship as parents and friends.’
There seems to be no chance to save the union. She added bleakly: ‘We did not function as a married couple any longer.’
Amadeus was born in 2010, but efforts to have another child were met with failure.
Lilly said earlier this year: ‘After the birth of my son, we wanted to have more kids immediately, but it didn’t work. I thought: “Hold on, are we not having enough sex?” Then my cramps were getting worse to the point where I almost fainted and I couldn’t walk.’
A gynaecologist removed a cyst and diagnosed her with endometriosis. She said: ‘I froze my eggs two years ago, I’ve tried IVF — we’ve done it all.’
Boris and Lilly then went into couples’ therapy to deal with their problems.
Lilly said: ‘It was something we never thought we would have to do. It helped. We did an hour a day for five days a week. It was nice to have the input from someone on the outside who doesn’t know you and isn’t biased.
‘If you go through a really s****y time, I’m convinced you have to go through it in your way and hit rock bottom before you can come back. That’s what happened to me.
‘At first, I let go completely — in every way. Too much drinking, too much smoking, too much going out and not caring. I thought: “My life sucks and I’m going to die.” I turned to vodka. I was smoking a pack a day. Boris was going through a bad time in his way, so he didn’t notice. We disconnected and went our own ways.’
The declaration of bankruptcy last June was a blow. She said: ‘It affected our lives massively. You find out who your real friends are.
‘I was so ashamed about everything and I thought: “How could this happen?” I felt like my family was under attack. I woke up one day, looked in the mirror and realised: enough is enough and nobody feels sorry for you.’
But despite efforts to reach a positive resolution, the couple announced in May that they were separating.
At the time, Lilly said: ‘I have not always been fair to my husband and have reacted too emotionally in various stressful situations and said words I did not really want to say. I’m sorry about that today. We were always very passionate in everything; in our lives, in love, in sex and in strife.’
She added: ‘I am through with men. Maybe I should be a lesbian, why not? But joking aside, women just get better with age.’
Whether the same can be said for the talented and charismatic, but increasingly troubled, Boris Becker as he enters his sixth decade is rather less certain.