In money and love, Boris Becker battles mounting woes

Hui Min NEO
Handout photograph by Irle Moser Rechtsanwaite showing the President of Central African Republic Faustin Archange Touadera in April with German former tennis star Boris Becker who claims he has diplomatic immunity from the CAR

A controversy over Boris Becker's claim that he enjoys diplomatic status from the Central African Republic has added to the clouds hanging over the German ex-tennis star battling financial and marital woes.

The three-time Wimbledon champion last week sought diplomatic immunity from bankruptcy proceedings in Britain, citing his appointment as a sports attache for the CAR in April.

But in a dramatic turn of events, the African country said a diplomatic passport Becker was holding is a fake.

Undeterred, Becker, 50, insisted in a filmed interview in Germany that "it is a fact that I am, today, a diplomat" of the country.

The bizarre case has again put the spotlight on Becker, whose off-court indiscretions has been piling up since he first shot to fame as Germany's Grand Slam winning poster boy in 1985, aged just 17.

The tennis star, who remains the youngest champion at Wimbledon, has over the decades kept tongues wagging not only with his aces but also a broom closet romp with a model, a tax evasion trial and a string of failed businesses.

Before the diplomatic row erupted, news of Becker's separation from his second wife, Dutch model Sharlely "Lilly" Kerssenberg, kept the tabloids busy for weeks.

- 'Broom closet tryst' -

Becker's love life was already the subject of headlines back in the 1990s.

He married actress and designer Barbara Feltus in December 1993 and their son Noah Gabriel -- named after Becker's friends French tennis star Yannick Noah and singer Peter Gabriel -- was born a month later.

But he found himself at the centre of a media frenzy after it emerged that during his wife's second pregnancy he cheated on her in the linen closet of a London hotel.

As a result of the tryst, Anna Ermakova was born in March 2000, to the Russian model Angela Ermakova, which led to Becker's divorce in January 2001 that cost him millions.

Becker only recognised Anna as his daughter after an embarrassingly public paternity dispute.

Although "Boom Boom" Becker won six Grand Slam trophies, amassing more than $25 million in prize money, costly settlements of his various romantic entanglements helped whittle away that wealth.

A series of business ventures also ended up in failure, including an internet organic food firm and the Becker Tower in Dubai.

In 2002, Becker, who is also a professional poker player, was handed a two-year suspended sentence for tax evasion.

He was also ordered to pay half a million euros for failing to pay more than one million euros in taxes between 1991 and 1993.

- Bankruptcy -

With the financial troubles piling up, Becker was declared bankrupt by a London court last year.

Seeking to scrap together funds to repay his creditors, Becker made a plea in January to track down five missing Grand Slam trophies -- including all three of his Wimbledon trophies -- with the intention of selling them to raise money.

Despite his various woes, he endeared himself to the British public as a BBC commentator from 2002 until he gave up his media work in 2013.

He then reinvented himself as Novak Djokovic's coach, successfully propelling the Serb to the 2014 title at Wimbledon.

On Thursday, he tweeted a picture of himself kneeling at a Christian altar in Poland with the local bishop, with the message "very humbled to have been blessed".