John McEnroe and Sue Barker criticised over on-air support for jailed Boris Becker
BBC presenters criticised for expressing sympathy for six-time grand slam champion during Wimbledon coverage
John McEnroe and Sue Barker were criticised on Monday after expressing support for Boris Becker during the BBC’s Wimbledon coverage.
The six-time grand slam champion was jailed for two and a half years in April for hiding £2.5m worth of assets and loans to avoid paying debts.
Becker, 54, was part of the BBC’s Wimbledon coverage last year, but is now serving his sentence in Huntercombe prison, near Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire
McEnroe said during commentary: “Boris, we love you. We miss you, man.” Barker, who is anchoring the coverage for the BBC for the last time, added: “We do indeed.”
One viewer criticised the BBC for allowing the pair to “send greetings” to the “convicted criminal”, but the broadcaster declined to comment.
It comes after McEnroe said last week that he planned to visit Becker in prison during the tournament. “Boris is a friend of mine. This is just horrible. I want to see him if I possibly can and if he’s willing to see people,” he said.
“I just feel terrible. He’s one of the great players that has ever played the game, and I know it meant a lot to Boris. He’s been going through a lot for a long time.”
Viewers also criticised commentator Andrew Castle earlier this month after he declared his support for Becker during the BBC’s live coverage of the Queen’s Clubs Championships. Former tennis player Castle, 58, said: “I’ve had a real moment of missing Boris. I know he’s in prison and I know why. Boris, we look forward to welcoming you on your return.”
Becker’s girlfriend, Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro, and his son Noah attended the opening day of Wimbledon to watch Novak Djokovic defeat Soonwoo Kwon.