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1985: Boris Becker wins Wimbledon at 17

A West German teenager has become the youngest ever player to win the Wimbledon tennis tournament.

Boris Becker, a 17-year-old unseeded outsider before the tournament began, raised the coveted silver trophy above his head to rapturous applause on centre court.

Becker is also the first German ever to win the title, and the first unseeded player.

He had dominated the match from the start, taking just three hours and 18 minutes to overpower eighth-seeded Kevin Curren, a South-African-born American.

Flamboyant

The match was a dramatic clash in the brilliant sunshine, made more spectacular by Becker's flamboyant style.

His massive serve sent balls scorching across the net. He scored 21 aces to Curren's 19.

Becker also has a habit of flinging himself around the court, diving headlong for volleys and baseline shots.

For half a set he played with his shirt caked in dirt after one particularly spectacular fall.

The final result was 6-3, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4.

'Idol' for Germany

"This is going to change tennis in Germany," he said after the match. "I am the first Wimbledon winner and now they have an idol."

After his defeat, Kevin Curren said he thought the game would see an increase in the number of successful young players, and predicted they would have more intense, but shorter, careers.

There was some speculation that Curren had been unnerved by Becker's openly aggressive style.

The young player sent a hostile stare to his opponent before and after points, and in the final caught Curren's shoulder as they passed when changing ends.

But Becker defended his tactics, saying "I'm going on court to win, to fight, to do what I can."

Child prodigy

Becker has had a brief but brilliant career. He began playing tennis aged eight, and by 12 years old was concentrating almost wholly on the game.

He won the West German junior championship aged 15 and was runner-up in the US junior championship.

Last January he took the Young Masters tournament in Birmingham, and won his first Grand Prix tournament at Queen's just three weeks ago.

He has won 28 of his 39 matches this year, and is expected to lead West Germany in the Davis Cup against the United States next month.

In Context
Boris Becker won the Wimbledon men's singles championship again the following year, and for a third time in 1989.

He won a total of six grand slam titles in his career, and in 1991 was ranked world number one.

His attacking style of tennis, based around a massive serve and dramatic, diving volleys defined men's tennis for years and is still emulated on court today.

He retired from professional tennis in 1999, after an emotional return to Wimbledon in which he lost in the fourth round.

However, a number of public scandals have kept him in the public eye.

After a messy divorce from his wife Barbara in January 2001, he admitted he had fathered a baby girl by Russian model Angela Ermakova.

Then in October 2002 he was given a two-year suspended sentence for failing to pay 1.7 million euros ($1.7m) in tax.

As a result, much of his fortune, estimated at 150m euros ($146.5m) during his career, is believed to have melted away on child support and divorce payments.


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