Novak Djokovic hosts family of imprisoned Boris Becker in Wimbledon box

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Novak Djokovic of Serbia, right, poses for a television camera during an interview with former tennis champion Boris Becker, left, ahead of the start of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Sunday, July 1, 2018. The Championships will start on Monday, July 2. - AP
Novak Djokovic of Serbia, right, poses for a television camera during an interview with former tennis champion Boris Becker, left, ahead of the start of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Sunday, July 1, 2018. The Championships will start on Monday, July 2. - AP

Novak Djokovic, the six-time Wimbledon champion, claimed he was heartbroken for jailed Boris Becker, having hosted the disgraced former title winner's family as guests on Centre Court.

Becker's girlfriend, Lillian de Carvalho Monteiro, and his son, Noah, watched from Djokovic's box for a second time this week as he swept into the third round in straight sets.

The 35-year-old Serb revealed afterwards that Noah, 28, and his younger brother, Elias, 22, were due to see their father in prison for the first time in the coming days. Three-time former champion and BBC co-commentator Becker was jailed by a Southwark Crown Court judge in April for hiding £2.5m worth of assets and loans to avoid paying debts. "Of course, it breaks my heart to see what's happening to him," said Djokovic, explaining that his friendship with the Becker family extended beyond the German's three-year stint at his coach.

"I can only imagine how hard it is for his family members so, of course, this is a little gesture of friendship to invite them," Djokovic said of his decision to invite the family to his box.

Wimbledon Players box during Djokovic Picture shows: Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro, partner of Boris Becker and Becker's son Noah. - Eddie Mulholland
Wimbledon Players box during Djokovic Picture shows: Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro, partner of Boris Becker and Becker's son Noah. - Eddie Mulholland

Becker, who had previously been convicted for tax evasion in Germany in 2002, remained a member of the All England Club in the immediate aftermath of being found guilty of four charges under the Insolvency Act.

However, he is unlikely to be employed by the BBC again following the case which centred on Becker's bankruptcy in June 2017 resulting from an unpaid loan of more than £3m on his luxury estate in Mallorca, Spain.

"Noah and his younger brother Elias are going to visit Boris I think in the next few days for the first time since he went to prison," said Djokovic after sailing comfortably through to the third round following victory over Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis.

Ms de Carvalho Monteiro is thought to have been dating twice divorced father-of-four Becker for around three years. She was seen blowing him a goodbye kiss as he was led out of the courtroom following his sentencing, and is said to have visited him at HMP Wandsworth in recent weeks.

"I've just been trying to give support to people around him, his closest people, his family members, because I consider Boris really a family member, someone that I greatly appreciate, respect, and care about," Djokovic said of his friendship with Becker

"We've been through a lot together during those three years of collaboration. Our relationship dates back even before that. Of course, after we finished our professional relationship, we always stayed close, him with my team, with my agents, with my family. He knows and they know that they can always count on me for whatever support or help I can provide."

The ever direct Djokovic has had his own fair share of controversy over the past year, having become sport's most prominent openly unvaccinated athlete. Earlier on Wednesday, he attacked the US Open for allowing all Americans to play when he and other foreigners who refuse the jab are stopped from travelling.

He insists it won’t be “the end of the world” if he cannot travel, but, speaking to Serbian journalists, he suggested all unvaccinated players should be effectively banned given the restrictions facing non-American citizens.

Djokovic said he had been texting the American player Tennys Sandgren since he said he found it "shameful" that the US authorities were not helping Djokovic get the green light to compete.

Answering questions from Serbian journalists, he added: “I have been texting with Tennys Sandgren a few days ago. I wanted to thank him for the public support he has given me in this situation. What he said makes total sense – if unvaccinated players are not allowed to compete at the US Open, then it should be the case for everyone. I don’t see the medical logic behind it, that Tennys can play because he is a citizen of the USA, and I cannot."

Djokovic was deported from Melbourne in January over his single-minded but controversial stance, forcing him to abandon an assault on a 10th Australian Open title.