Tennis legend John McEnroe sent an emotional message to Boris Becker in prison via TV at the start of the grass classic in Wimbledon. “Boris, we love you. We miss you man,” said the 63-year-old American as an expert during the BBC broadcast of the Grand Slam tournament. Moderator Sue Barker added: “We really do.”

McEnroe had recently reported that he wanted to visit Becker in prison around Wimbledon. “Boris is a friend of mine. This is just terrible. If it’s possible I want to see him, if he wants to,” said the winner of the 1981, 1983 and 1984 Wimbledon tournament.

However, the recent statements were not entirely positively received by English viewers. The fact that the BBC would have allowed greetings to be sent to a convicted criminal in an ongoing TV program was met with some incomprehension. A few weeks ago, BBC commentator Andrew Castle was criticized for pledged his support to Becker during a tennis broadcast.

At the end of April, Becker was sentenced to two and a half years in prison at Southwark Crown Court in London, the second half of which is expected to be suspended. He had concealed assets worth millions from his insolvency administrators. Becker is now in Huntercombe prison in Nuffield, around 70 kilometers west of his adopted home of London.

The British TV broadcaster recently left open whether the 54-year-old will return to work as an expert alongside McEnroe at the BBC after his prison sentence has expired. A spokeswoman for the British public broadcaster told the German Press Agency before the tournament that “no decision has yet been made about the future”.