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John McEnroe under fire for Boris Becker comment

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John McEnroe has come under fire from BBC viewers for his on-air support of Boris Becker, who was sent to prison earlier this year on charges of concealing assets.  Images: Getty Images

John McEnroe has come under fire from BBC viewers for his on-air support of Boris Becker, who was sent to prison earlier this year on charges of concealing assets. Images: Getty Images

Tennis legend John McEnroe and fellow BBC commentator Sue Barker have been criticized for lending their support to the imprisoned Boris Becker aired during the network’s Wimbledon broadcast.

Becker, a three-time Wimbledon champion, received a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence in April after the conclusion of his lengthy bankruptcy trial.

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The 54-year-old was found guilty of concealing £2.5 million ($4.4 million Australian) in assets and loans as part of an effort to avoid paying various debts.

McEnroe and Barker mentioned the tennis great, who had been part of the BBC’s coverage of Wimbledon in 2021, on the first day of competition.

The American tennis great declared: “Boris, we love you. We miss you, man,” to which Barker added, “Actually, we do.”

This resulted in a cascade of complaints directed at the couple, with many unhappy at the support shown to Becker in light of his criminal conviction.

The BBC has refused to comment publicly, however the pair’s move to ‘send regards’ to a convicted criminal’ was not well received by sections of the audience.

McEnroe has previously stated his intention to visit his close friend in prison while in the UK for Wimbledon.

“Boris is a friend of mine. This is horrible. I want to see him if I can and if he is willing to see people,” he said.

“I feel terrible. He is one of the great players to have played this game and I know he meant a lot to Boris.

“He’s been going through a lot for a long time.”

Commentators criticized for message of support for Boris Becker

McEnroe and Barker are not the only television and tennis personalities to have criticized the British public over Becker’s imprisonment, with another BBC commentator, Andrew Castle, also calling for his own message of support.

The former UK No. 1 said Becker’s absence was being deeply felt.

“I’ve had a real moment of missing Boris. I know he is in prison and I know why. Boris, we look forward to welcoming him back,” he said.

Becker previously received the support of World No. 1 Novak Djokovic after his prison sentence was handed down.

Djokovic, who briefly hired Becker as an assistant coach, called the situation “terrible” and added that he had gotten close to Becker’s son, Noah.

Boris Becker was jailed for two and a half years earlier this year on charges related to his bankruptcy.  (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)

Boris Becker was jailed for two and a half years earlier this year on charges related to his bankruptcy. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)

“Even when we stopped working, our relationship continued to work well. I have been in contact with one of his sons, Noah, and asked if there was anything I could do,” Djokovic said.

“It’s terrible.

“I am very sad that someone I know so well, and of course someone who is a legend in our sport, is going through what he is going through.

“It’s been less than a month. We know how long he has to be in there. So I just hope he stays healthy and strong.”

The 54-year-old man was found guilty of transferring money to his ex-wives so as not to have to pay creditors.

Speaking in early May, ex-wife Lilly Becker described her pain after Boris he was sent to prison.

“I completely broke down,” the Dutch model said on Piers Morgan’s ‘Uncensored’ show.

“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing because I was convinced, until the judge gave her verdict, that I was going to be a little less than two and a half years old.

“I had to keep my composure and I don’t know how I did it.”

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