Tennis great Boris sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for bankruptcy

Tennis great Boris Becker was sentenced to 2½ years in prison Friday for illicitly transferring large amounts of money and hiding assets after he was declared bankrupt.

The three-time Wimbledon champion was convicted earlier this month on four charges under the Insolvency Act and had faced a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.

Judge Deborah Taylor announced the sentence after hearing arguments from the prosecutor and from Becker's attorney.

The 54-year-old German was found to have transferred hundreds of thousands of pounds after his June 2017 bankruptcy from his business account to other accounts, including those of ex-wife Barbara and estranged wife Sharlely "Lilly" Becker.

Becker was also convicted of failing to declare a property in Germany and hiding an 825,000 euro ($871,000) bank loan and shares in a tech firm.

The jury at Southwark Crown Court in London acquitted him on 20 other counts, including charges that he failed to hand over his many awards, including two Wimbledon trophies and an Olympic gold medal.

Becker, wearing a striped tie in Wimbledon's purple and green colors, walked into the courthouse hand in hand with girlfriend Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro.

The six-time Grand Slam champion has denied all the charges, saying he had cooperated with trustees tasked with securing his assets -- even offering up his wedding ring -- and had acted on expert advice.

At the sentencing hearing Friday, prosecutor Rebecca Chalkley said that Becker had acted "deliberately and dishonestly" and that he was "still seeking to blame others."

Defense attorney Jonathan Laidlaw argued for leniency, saying his client hadn't spent money on a "lavish lifestyle" but rather on child support, rent, and legal and business expenses. Becker, he told the court, has experienced "public humiliation" and has no future earnings potential.

Becker's bankruptcy stemmed from a 4.6 million euro loan from a private bank in 2013, as well as about $1.6 million borrowed from a British businessman the year after, according to testimony at the trial.

During the trial, Becker said his $50 million career earnings had been swallowed up by payments for an "expensive divorce" and debts when he lost large chunks of his income after retirement.

Becker rose to stardom in 1985 at the age of 17 when he became the first unseeded player to win the Wimbledon singles title, and he later rose to the No. 1 ranking. He has lived in Britain since 2012.