Although Boris Becker, the 17-year-old West German who Sunday became the youngest player to win the men's singles championship at Wimbledon, remains entered in the D.C. National Bank Tennis Classic here, his father said yesterday that he might withdraw.
Karl-Heinz Becker, reached by telephone at a celebration at Becker's home tennis club in Leimen, West Germany, said his son has swelling in his left ankle that might prevent him from playing here. The elder Becker said the Wimbledon champion and his mother have gone to Monaco to vacation and will return home Friday for a victory party.
"Boris and his mother are doing the scheduling in Monaco," said Becker, with the sounds of celebration in the background. "We'll just have to wait and see. His ankle is very swollen -- it's the same leg he had an operation on one year ago. It's up in the air whether he can play or whether the foot has to be treated."
Play in the D.C. National Bank tournament will begin Monday at Rock Creek Tennis Stadium.
Becker said Sunday, after winning the Wimbledon championship, that his next tournament appearance would be in Indianapolis, where the U.S. Clay Court Championships begin July 22.
But tournament officials here said yesterday that Becker has not withdrawn. Jerry Solomon, senior vice president of ProServ, the firm involved in managing the tournament, said he spoke on Sunday to Ion Tiriac, Becker's coach and manager.
"I said, 'I'll see you in Washington,' and he said, 'Yes,' " Solomon said. "We didn't discuss it specifically. I didn't say, 'Is Boris going to play or has he pulled out?' "
Solomon's conversation with Tiriac took place before the match.
"A lot could have changed in 24 hours," Solomon said.
Tony Ugenio, assistant administrator at the Men's International Professional Tennis Council in New York, said Becker may withdraw any time before noon Friday without incurring a fine. Even if Becker were to withdraw later than Friday, his fine would be only $1,500 because he did not have to commit to play on the circuit this year since he was not ranked in the top 100 last year. Had Becker been ranked in the top 100 last year, the fine for withdrawing later than Friday would be $10,000.
Withdrawal after the Friday deadline also could hurt Becker's ranking, as the event possibly could be averaged in as a tournament appearance even if he did not play.
Becker didn't even make the first-run poster of the D.C. National Bank Tennis Classic. Now, after his stunning 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 victory over Kevin Curren Sunday, he is in demand everywhere. Even in Leimen, celebrants must wait to welcome their young hero.
"This has rather burst the bubble," said Kurt Weber, president of the Blue and White tennis club where Becker used to hit balls at the practice courts for hours, even as a 5-year-old. "We've had to put off our plans to give Boris a big welcome-home party until Friday."
Also awaiting his return to Leimen is Mayor Herbert Ehrbar, who has hanging on his office wall a racket Becker used to defeat Ivan Lendl in a recent tournament. Ehrbar told Reuter he will welcome Becker before joining in a party for about 1,000 guests around a giant pretzel spelling the letters "BoBeLe" -- for Boris Becker of Leimen.
Becker, who not only is the youngest man to win Wimbledon but also is the first German and the first unseeded player to win it, seems to be overwhelmed by the attention.
"We haven't had much chance to talk," Becker's father said. "The press, reporters, television crews just stormed us after the win. The whole thing has simply been overwhelming. Where's the limit?"
Becker was scheduled to return home yesterday after the traditional victory dinner at Wimbledon. But when he left London, it was by the side door of his hotel, walking briskly with his head down, not speaking to waiting reporters. He boarded a plane for Nice, France, en route to Monaco instead of heading home.
"He has given 18 interviews since yesterday," Tiriac said. "He just can't do it anymore."