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Becker still loves tennis despite departing Wimbledon

July 4, 1997

BERLIN (AP) _ Boris Becker’s emotional decision to end his Wimbledon career was in the works for six months.

In a television interview Friday, Becker told SAT1 he’d been preparing his announcement since losing in the first round at the Australian Open in January.

``My wife knew I want to quit since the Grand Slam tournament in Melbourne,″ Becker said. ``Then I told her, `Girl, now we have to show that we can somehow make it over the next six months to Wimbledon, because I can’t go on like this.′

``Now this pressure has been taken off my shoulders, and that’s a very pleasant feeling. I love the sport, I love tennis. Nobody has to force me to do it. That’s why I would like to stay with it as long as possible and then sometime later quit entirely.″

Germans reacted with shock and regret to the news that Becker had said goodbye to Wimbledon, but he was relieved to have the decision behind him and planned to concentrate on his family.

``Now I’d like to have a bigger family,″ Becker told RTL television. ``Three, four children _ however, it’s not all up to me.″

Becker, 29, and his wife, Barbara, have a 3-year-old son, Noah.

Becker, who won the first of three Wimbledon titles in 1985, was beaten in this year’s tournament in Thursday’s quarterfinals by Pete Sampras.

Afterward, Becker said it would be his last Wimbledon. He said he did not have it in him to win another two-week Grand Slam tournament, although he held open the possibility he might play the in U.S. Open, starting next month.

After that, he said he would continue in one-week ATP Tour events.

Becker’s announcement was front page news across Germany, where he is admired even among non-sports fans for his fiery will to win and classy demeanor.

Under the headline, ``We’ll all miss Boris,″ a Berlin tabloid, BZ, said it would take a long time for Germans to grasp that there can even be tennis without him.

``Becker was the heart of our tennis,″ the newspaper wrote. ``Boris was passion, excitement, fascination.″

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