Three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker says he often found it hard to cope with fame during his career and has warned modern players of the price of being in the public eye.
Becker was thrust into the spotlight when he won Wimbledon in 1985 aged 17.
His rise to stardom has drawn comparisons with American Coco Gauff, who reached the last 16 at Wimbledon this year at the age of just 15.
“Once you’re famous, you’re famous. But it’s a real high price,” Becker said.
“You’re sitting having a coffee with someone and you’re headline news the next day.
“Just to compare it with the craziness we are witnessing now with Coco Gauff and she only reached the fourth round.”
Becker, who won six Grand Slams during his career, was one of the biggest sports stars in Germany in the 1980s and 1990s.
Now 51, he says he found it daunting to carry the hopes of a nation, particularly when competing for his country at the Davis Cup.
However, he thinks things are much harder now for modern players with the added pressure of social media and the internet.
Speaking to the Don’t Tell Me the Score podcast, Becker said: “I was still very young and felt intimidated by the scale of it, carrying a whole country. What happens if I fail? Have I disappointed all of you? And so expectations got out of hand a little bit.
“If I lost in the final it was like somebody died and people would criticise you on a personal level.
“You are walking down the street and big newspapers followed you every step of the way. But in those days we had no internet and no social media, I couldn’t imagine what it would be like.
“It’s so easy to post something on social media without any truth in it and yet you have to prove otherwise. That’s not right.”
Becker also questioned the rise of celebrity culture and the impact it has on young people.
“We’re living in strange times, celebrity culture is at an all-time high, but it is not the truth,” he said. “I am a celebrity because I’ve done something unusual but a lot of people are celebrities these days because they are a celebrity. They’ve never done anything in their life that is extraordinary other than being famous.
“So it is very difficult for young children. Do you want to be famous and successful? If so how is it defined?
“If you have 10 million followers on Twitter does that mean you are successful? We are living in dangerous times of value and what means what.”
Despite the pressures of fame, Becker says he had no regrets and that being a celebrity does have its upsides.
“You always get a seat in a restaurant. You can bend the rules a bit if you’re famous,” he added. Some of the old stories haunt me, but I smile about it. For me winning tennis matches was far more important.
“If someone said 35 years ago that I would have the success I had now, I would sign straight away.” – BBC.