How furious can you be while on a yacht off the coast of Sardinia? Quite furious, it seems. The woman who is still, technically, Mrs Boris Becker, is livid. Any woman in her position (I don’t think she means on a yacht, though) would be, she insists.
‘There are RULES,’ says Lilly Becker, hoicking her white bikini top into place. ‘They aren’t written down, but there are woman-to-woman rules, a kind of code of conduct about these things.
‘When I was Boris’s new girlfriend, I adhered to them. When I was on holiday for the first time with his children from his first marriage, I called his ex-wife, Barbara, beforehand. You just DO.
Lilly Becker, pictured, said there are rules when dealing with step children as a step mother
‘You say: “Hello, my name is Lilly. I want to make this easy. Does your child have allergies? Is there anything I should know?”
‘She didn’t do that. Worse, she ignored me when I tried to make contact — and I was polite, too. I wished her a good holiday. Yet next thing I knew she was in all the papers putting sunscreen on my son.
‘CREAMING HIM! He didn’t need creaming. Boris is the one who needs Factor 70, with his red hair. Go cream Boris! I had asked her not to mother my child. So yes, I am furious. My son is OUT OF BOUNDS. HANDS OFF HIM.’
Blimey. Becker’s new girlfriend might want to run now (‘yes, any woman who is in his life will have to deal with me, too,’ Lilly points out, lest anyone be in doubt).
What on earth has happened? Well, this week Wimbledon legend Boris — a man as famous for his womanising as for his 139mph serve — has done it again, turning his complicated love life into a spectator sport.
There are RULES… but she just ignored me
The man has form, obviously. That story of him having conceived a child in a broom cupboard during a wham-bam liaison with a model at Nobu restaurant has been misreported over the years, but was still largely true (except the deed in question was performed on the stairs, not in the broom cupboard).
This week the big, blond blunderbuss has been at it again.
He possibly (probably?) thought little of it when he jetted off to Ibiza with his new girlfriend Lilian De Carvalho Monteiro.
Alas, the couple also took the ten-year-old son, Amadeus, he shares with estranged wife Lilly. All hell erupted when Lilly — on a separate holiday — saw the new woman in his life, whom she has never met, applying suncream to her son.
It might have seemed like an over-reaction when she fired off an angry ‘hands off!’ missive on Instagram (which promptly went viral before it was deleted), but there is background, it seems.
Mrs Becker and her tennis legend husband Boris, left, have split up in 2018 although they are still married
When Lilly agrees to an interview, via Zoom, I half expect her to backtrack on her outburst, but perhaps the lesson is that you shouldn’t underestimate the fury of a woman who has seen her son being mothered by a complete stranger.
A stranger 20-odd years her junior, with pert buttocks to boot!
‘I do not know this woman,’ Lilly lets rip. ‘I only found out she was going on holiday with my child a couple of days before they went.
‘What bothers me is that this is the second woman in six months to go on holiday with my son — in a global pandemic! This is not normal. It certainly isn’t normal that she’d be putting suncream on him. That’s a parenting job. And he didn’t need her doing it.
My son is out of bounds. HANDS OFF HIM
‘I don’t know if she is going to last. My niece is on that holiday with them. If Amadeus has any needs like that, she can do it. And his father can do it.’
Indeed, she explains that the background to this sorry debacle involved her sending a message to her niece, making that first crucial (she argues) contact with Lilian.
‘I sent a message to my niece’s phone, asking her if she could show it to Lilian. I was polite.
‘I said I hoped she had a good holiday, but could she just refrain from mothering my son.
‘I said I’d be grateful if she could just keep her distance from him. If he needed anything, my niece could do it. I was friendly, certain and completely respectful.
‘I wanted her to have my number so she could call me if she needed anything. Women need to work together in this situation. Barbara and I always did.
‘We were never best friends, because it doesn’t work like that, but we respected each other. I was trying to set that sort of woman-to-woman thing up.’
Mrs Becker was outraged after seeing photographs of her husband’s new girlfriend Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro, left, putting sun lotion on her son’s shoulders
Lilly believes this message was shown, by her niece, to Lilian. ‘She took a photo of it. Then she ignored it. She did not call me. I was ignored.
‘I never heard from her and these photos emerged of her that had been taken a couple of days earlier, rubbing cream into my son, dressing him. ‘Well no. No, no, no, no, no. It is not on. She is not his mother. Just get off him!’
Suddenly she’s addressing Lilian directly. ‘Go on holiday with Boris. Please do, but realise you are just the next girl. Don’t ask me to accept it all, because I don’t know where you fit. I don’t know how long you will be around. I don’t know anything about you.’
To be fair, none of us knows much about Lilian, but what we do know might be reassuring to some ex-wives. She works as a political risk analyst, has three degrees and speaks five languages, it seems.
And she may well have thought she was doing the right thing by protecting a fair-skinned child from the sun.
Could it possibly be that it’s the pert bottom Lilly has gone ballistic about? ‘I don’t care about that,’ says Lilly (who, to be fair, can still rock the white bikini herself).
‘Why would I be jealous of something I had. I filed for divorce. I don’t want it any more.
‘I have always been surrounded by beautiful women [Lilly is a model turned TV presenter], so has Boris and this is a great opportunity for them. If they want to be influencers on Instagram or whatever — go for it! I want it for him, too.
‘Honestly, I wish him all the hot girls. Have fun! Enjoy your time, because now you can.
Do you realise that you’re just the next girl?
‘I actually think Boris should embrace the life of the bachelor and have a different girl every couple of years, but don’t overlap them.
‘And don’t take them all on holiday with my son. He is ten. He does not understand. He just wants a holiday, not to have a different woman with them every time.’
It’s fair to say that the second Mrs Becker is a fiery sort, prone to flinging her arms about.
She and Boris split in 2018, but the divorce has not been finalised. The wedding ring may have been discarded, but — oops! — the Mrs Becker tattoo that was designed to sit discreetly under it, for eternity, is still very much in situ.
Perhaps she could have it erased? Or turned into a nice dragon? No thanks, she says.‘It’s a great name and I’ll keep my Mrs Becker tattoo.
‘It’s a part of my life I treasure. We were together for 13 years. We have an amazing son. Boris is still a part of my life and always will be.’
Mrs Becker has warned Lilian De Carvalho Monteiro, left, that her husband will replace her at some stage
Every mother negotiating a messy divorce will sympathise with the difficulties of your ex introducing someone new, but I can’t imagine you marry Boris Becker without understanding that things are going to get somewhat complicated.
Boris has four children. There are his two sons, Noah, 26, and Elias, 20, from his first marriage, the not-quite-broom cupboard love child Anna Ermakova (who is now 20 and a model) and Amadeus.
She shrugs. ‘I knew life would never be boring, yes, but I can deal with all the other stuff. When it comes to my child, though, I will fight. I will fight Boris if I have to.’
It’s all quite sad, ultimately, because their relationship did seem to be beating all the odds. Lilly was still modelling at the time she met Boris at a party in 2005. She was 29, drop-dead gorgeous and he was smitten.
They married in St Moritz in 2009. She says she vividly remembers the day she got that tattoo done. ‘It was one of the happiest times of my life. I remember that day we’d been at the U.S. Open in Brooklyn.’
Did Boris get a happily-ever-after tattoo, too? No he did not. ‘He hates tattoos. Hates them.’ She bursts out laughing. ‘It’s just as well he didn’t, though, isn’t it? He’d need to use temporary tattoos that could be washed off.’
Lilly’s attitude to Boris’s subsequent girlfriends is perhaps best summed up when she refers to the model he was stepping out with a few months back. ‘Before this one, he was with Yoana Whatever-her-name-is,’ says Lilly. Yoana Montero, she means.
Actually, she isn’t entirely sure how many girls there have been since her, or what their names are. ‘He is a player. It’s just how he is, and he will NEVER change. He told me that himself.
‘He said it’s just who he is. Maybe people think he will, but at 52? What are the chances? I just think he should be more honest about the fact that he’s a player. I would respect him more for it.’
Because of court proceedings, there is a limit to how much Lilly can say today about the marriage and what went wrong. ‘When a woman reaches 40, she has to decide how much she can take, and I was disappointed,’ she says.
‘A line was crossed and I had to walk away, for my own self-respect. People told me he wouldn’t change. So I had to make the changes myself.’
To be fair to Boris, it doesn’t sound as if Lilly was ever just another one of his women.
In an interview last year, he described her as the love of his life. She feels the same. ‘We had a love that can never be broken,’ she says. ‘I will never regret our marriage, and it gave us our son, too.’
Married life was, at first, one long fiesta. ‘There were holidays all over the world, private jets, all of it,’ she says, nodding. ‘And I loved it. I had the sort of life all girls dream of.’
With the man many girls had on their bedroom wall, of course. From the off, she knew other women would throw themselves at him because, well, he’s Boris Becker. He has this amazing charisma. When he’s good, he’s amazing. Remember he’s a motivational speaker, too.’ The way she describes it, any woman would have swooned. ‘Of course. He’s tall, he’s big. He’s blond. He’s German. He’s won Wimbledon, for God’s sake!
‘But I was never worried [about the other women]. I am strong and confident. I could handle it.’
Although he is German and she Dutch, England — Wimbledon, specifically — was where they set up home.
She still lives there. ‘It’s where Amadeus was born, where he went to kindergarden. It’s our safe haven, where our closest friends are. I know the butcher, we have our favourite restaurants.’
Family life was never going to be conventional, with all those children in the mix, but Lilly insists the women involved made it work. ‘It is often up to the women, isn’t it?’
Quite when things started to fall apart is unclear, but in 2017, Becker was declared bankrupt. The star who first won Wimbledon as an unseeded 17-year-old, was pursued by a private bank for a debt thought to be around £3.3 million.
It has been reported that the couple had relationship counselling, for an hour a day, five days a week. It was not enough to keep them together.
‘There was a lot going on —financially, emotionally. It was a mess,’ Lilly confirms.
She says she was deeply unhappy in the final stages of their marriage. ‘I couldn’t think straight. It was a horrible, horrible time.’
Ditto after the split. ‘I had a horrendous time. I had debts, and was trying not to lose my mind. But thankfully I had Amadeus.
‘When you have a child to get up and dressed for school, and to make breakfast for, you have to just keep going. The priority for both of us was Amadeus.’
Their son was not, it seems, the battleground. ‘Boris is a good father and Amadeus loves him.’ Never did she try to stop the two having a relationship, she insists.
It’s why she has always accepted he will go on holiday with his dad. ‘Why should he miss out on that? I want him to go. I want him to have fun.
‘But for all this to work there have to be rules.’
Rule number 1: Don’t mess with the second Mrs Becker.
- Are you a stepmother or a mother whose ex has introduced your children to a new woman? Tell us your story at firstname.lastname@example.org