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‘Brutal monomaniac’: The gripping film about Boris Becker’s astonishing rise and spectacular fall

By Xan Brooks

03 Apr 2023 · 6 min read

Editor's Note

Did Boris Becker's apparent invincibility on the court, lead him to believe he held impunity off it. The Guardian interviews actor, Alex Gibney, who plays Becker in the upcoming biopic.

Boris Becker was the poster-boy of 1980s tennis, the 17-year-old upstart who turned Wimbledon on its head. He possessed a howitzer serve, a gambler’s swagger and a habit – at once exhilarating and alarming – of diving full-length in pursuit of seemingly irretrievable balls. No match was complete without the sight of Becker crashing to the ground like a cold-cocked prizefighter. Most times, he bounced straight back to his feet.

In 2018, the Oscar-winning film-maker Alex Gibney – a keen player himself – began preparing a documentary on Becker’s colourful life and times. He envisaged the film as a celebration, a rollicking portrait of a sporting giant. But events intruded, the law intervened and his picture took a more dramatic route. “You never know what you’re going to find when you start to make a film,” Gibney says. “With a documentary, you write the script at the end not the beginning, based on what you discover along the way.”

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