Evidence suggests that Courtin, the Monegasque homegirl who took up with Becker in 1986, was something of a high-society butterfly, and that could not go over well for too long with Becker. "Sure, I have met all the Monaco royalty," he says. "I think I have met every single person in Monte Carlo. But I do not go out much there. Few Monegasques do. The high rollers in the clubs of Monaco are not from Monaco. Luckily, my profession takes me away from Monte Carlo."
And so along came Schultz, the daughter of a teacher in a middle-class neighborhood of Hamburg. She first dated Becker when she worked as a hostess at the 1988 German Open in her hometown. One story has it that their initial meeting took place only because Schultz, originally a pressroom attendant, had refused to empty all the ashtrays that were cluttering up the journalists' working quarters. Transferred to the sanctity of the players' lounge, Schultz smelled no tobacco and, sure enough, soon heard violins.
The romance burned for two years, and Becker even purchased a large apartment overlooking a lake in Hamburg. But Schultz, a language student who favored the Sinead O'Connor crewcut look, tired of the tennis tour and became just another ex. KAREN WANTED BABY, the German press recently wailed, but Becker rejects that notion. "Karen wanted her own personal life," he says.
Ever the discreet swain, Becker did a nifty tap dance on the perplexed heads of the international media on the final day of Wimbledon last month, after who should appear in his Centre Court guest box but the glamorous Olympic skater, Katarina Witt, age 24. Later, hovering photographers would catch Witt knocking at the front door of Becker's rented house in the village of Wimbledon. She was not there to exchange her East German fortune for deutsche marks, either. A limousine with suitcases at the ready waited nearby. Subsequently, the pair dashed out together. Were they going to a symposium on reunification at the West German embassy? Where was Maury Povich when we needed him?
"Do I know her?" Becker repeated a question during the Katarina Watch. He had a marvelous glint in his eyes. "I have seen her skating."
"The older women?" says Hlasek. "When you win Wimbledon at 17, who're you going to talk to, 15-year-olds?"
"I had difficulty understanding a lot of the things I had to go through over the last five years," Becker says. "Maybe I felt older girls would help me understand." He laughs. "Also, I guess I thought I could last longer than a month with an older girl.
"I want a girlfriend who has her own life—not just somebody to hang around tournaments. But it's very difficult to be always Number 2 in. a relationship. I wouldn't advise any girl to be my girlfriend. It's not an easy life. Of course, there are some good things about it...."
For instance, a girl might get to live on a few continents. And those she missed, her beau could buy. If Becker is not one of the richest athletes on the planet, we're in a different solar system. Not that anyone would notice his wealth, what with the young champion shunning chauffeurs to walk around in his rain cap, like Oliver Twist, whom Becker most resembles in overall accessories. Recently, by mutual agreement, Becker and West Germany's Deutschebank allowed his endorsement contract to expire. "I just don't relate to a bank," Becker says. "In the learning process, you find out these things in life."
Echoes. His U.S. Open victory "has something to do with learning about life," Becker said last September. "You go out there and give it your best shot. That's all you can do.... That's why my spirit is so good. I know if I lose it's not the end of the world. It depends on how I lose."