A thought experiment: let’s push nationalism too far. The television stations in Germany would shift other sporting events to different times so the entire nation could watch Becker’s matches. A Becker match meant drama: Sturm und Drang. The rocking motion before the serve, then boom. (Only Sampras had a better big serve under pressure.) The dramatic, diving volleys on grass. The Becker fist. The Becker shuffle. Becker himself said his performances on court were a type of lovemaking between he and the spectators: electric, erotic, power and lust, body and soul. The pre 20th-century heroes of Germany—Luther, Beethoven, Marx, Nietzsche—moved societies, thought. Becker was just a tennis player who happened to win Wimbledon in 1985 at seventeen years old, then repeated this feat the next year. Did a German century of defeat and shame help forge Becker into an even greater hero?* Nie Wieder. Never again. I saw these words everywhere when I lived in Germany for a year just after the fall of the Berlin Wall. In East Germany the rise of the Neo-Nazis. In West Germany they insisted I tour the camps. I watched Becker all the time on TV.
*A question, I realize, that is unfair to Becker. All celebrity is gloriously unfair. To what extent any great athlete—or any less important person, say you or me–should be linked to their country’s culture and history is a thorny question. To what extent any country’s reaction to a great athlete can be linked to that country’s culture and history is perhaps, perhaps not, a less thorny question.
German Translation of “Boris Becker” by the artist, Miki de Goodaboom
About the Painting:
Miki de Goodaboom writes:“In Germany I followed Boris Becker’s career from the very beginning, with as much enthusiasm as all of the German people. It was of course a must to make his portrait!”
About the Artist:
Born in the French Pyrenees, Miki de Goodaboom moved to Goettingen, Germany at age 19 to study mathematics and physics. After graduating, she worked for many years in German industry as a mathematician and consultant until she moved to Spain, Andalucia, where she lives now. A self-taught artist, Miki kept creating more and more art until it finally became her full-time profession. She most enjoys painting sport themes since she loves movement and the challenge of reducing it to 2 dimensions on paper or canvas. If you check out her countless “Sport Art” paintings and posters on her website, you will see almost 300 images from the entire world of sport. But as you can see from her website, she loves to paint almost anything she encounters in the world.
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“Boris Becker” was first published with the National Senior Men’s Tennis Association.