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Pills, alcohol helped Becker fight stress

November 05, 2003 18:15 IST

Three-times Wimbledon champion Boris Becker says he took pills and alcohol to cope with the stress of the tennis world.

The former world number one reveals in an autobiography to be published later this month that he was addicted to sleeping pills for years and also had a drinking problem.

Boris Becker"Sleeping pills were my problem," he wrote in an extract of his book released on Tuesday by top-selling German daily Bild.

The German, now 35, said he started taking sleeping pills in 1987, during a low point in his career, and did not kick the habit until 1992.

Becker, whose heroics on the tennis court made him one of Germany's biggest post-war celebrities, retired after playing one last Wimbledon in 1999.

In his book, entitled Augenblick, verweile doch (Wait a second, stay a while), he says he was prescribed sleeping pills called Planum and soon became addicted but also took other drugs.

"Against the lack of sleep there was Planum, against the pain there were a few other pills," he writes. "Against loneliness, women and whisky helped."

Becker said he soon could not sleep without taking pills and suffered from depression for swallowing too many.

"For years I lived with it. Towards the end of it I woke up in the middle of the night because the effect only lasted three or four hours. I then had to take two pills -- a double dose."

A crowded calendar, jetlag, the stress and his determination to succeed were the reasons he took the pills, he said.

Alcohol also became a problem and in the book, Becker recalls a terrible hangover.

"It was during a cool October night that I asked my wife to shoot me," he writes. "I was standing almost naked on the terrace of our Munich home and I could not stand this roller-coaster going on in my head. In the evening I had gone to the Oktoberfest [beer festival] and I had beer and schnapps."

The former world number one, who shot to fame with his first triumph at the All England Club as a teenager in 1985, has endured a string of misfortunes since leaving the professional tennis circuit.

The man once known as "Boom-Boom" for his trademark heavy artillery and never-say-die attitude on a tennis court had to go through an expensive divorce settlement, an admission he fathered a child with a Russian model and a legal battle with German tax authorities.

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