The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘We need more noise in tennis’

Berlin: Boris Becker and Steffi Graf believe livelier tournaments and a less crowded schedule would raise the interest in the sport they once played.

Becker has had enough of umpires ordering “Quiet please” and would welcome more emotions. Graf said a revised calendar and more appropriate television coverage would help.

“To ask ‘Quiet please’ is very antiquated,” Becker told German weekly Die Zeit in an interview made available a day before its publication on Thursday.

“Nobody listens anyway.”

Ahead of the 100th anniversary of the German Tennis Federation (DTB), which will be celebrated on Friday, Die Zeit also spoke to the country’s other tennis darling, Graf.

“There are too many tournaments,” she said when asked why tennis had lost much of its appeal. “Which other sport has a season lasting 11 months'

“On top of that there has been too much tennis on television in Europe and Germany. The spectators did not know any more which matches were important. Becker and Graf, both former world number ones who have won 28 Grand Slam titles including 10 Wimbledon crowns between them, generated a tennis boom in Germany.

But the sport has been in a sorry state in their country since they both retired in 1999, with few high-profile players, less tournaments and serious financial problems for the DTB.

Becker, now involved in the organisation of the Hamburg Masters Series, said he would love to see music bands, cheerleaders and clowns make tennis events more fun. “We need more noise in there,” he said.

Players, too, should be allowed to show their emotions, he said. “John McEnroe, Ilie Nastase or Jimmy Connors, three truly greats of our time, would not win a single title today, because they would be banned from the quarter finals onwards (after repeated warnings from the umpires).”

Becker, who was handed a suspended jail term and a hefty fine for tax evasion in his home country last month, complained about how he had been treated in Germany since moving back to live there.

“Stars in this country are being slaughtered to make sure they fit into the system,” he said. “Is it wrong to love your country' After eight years, I would say yes, it is wrong.”

The 34-year-old was found guilty by a Munich court of having claimed residence in Monaco while actually living in Munich between 1991 and 1993.

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