By Molly Ambler
Jelena Dokic is a Yugoslavian-born Australian tennis coach, columnist and former player.
She rose through the rankings, her highest world ranking being in August 2002 where she was ranked fourth.
However Jelena’s recently-released autobiography details how she was suffering from horrific abuse as the hands of her father, Damir, who coached her throughout her career.
Jelena states that as soon as she picked up a tennis racket aged six, the emotional, physical and verbal abuse started.
She had a promising career ahead of her, beating world number one Martina Hingis in 1999 at just aged 16 and reaching the last four of Wimbledon in 2000, losing to Lindsay Davenport.
This should have been a highlight in a career, however Jelena states that her father was so disappointed in her performance that he didn’t let her back to the hotel, leaving her to hide in the players’ lounge at SW19 hoping she would be able to stay there.
There were very public incidents surrounding her father at Wimbledon, the US Open and the Australian Open, with her father wrapping himself in a St George’s flag at Wimbledon and began to shout at spectators and smash journalist’s equipment.
Damir also decided Jelena was going to switch allegiance from Australia to his home country of Yugoslavia, now Serbia, isolating her from her supporters and family.
Her father did not allow her to have any contact with her younger brother for numerous years, putting an immense amount of strain on Jelena.
As well as the torrent of emotional and verbal abuse she faced, there was also physical abuse, with some instances leaving her unconscious.
Jelena writes, “The blow to the head fells me and, as I lie on the floor he starts kicking me, he kicks me near my ear and my vision blurs”, detailing just one incident of physical abuse.
Throughout all of the press regarding for autobiography, titled ‘Unbreakable’, Jelena has made it clear that she is not looking to blame anyone for the abuse she suffered.
She commented: “I don’t want pity. I’ve overcome this. I’m not complaining, this is about helping people.”
Jelena has been very open about the abuse she has suffered during her career and indeed her life, however there are important lessons that must be learnt from this horrific ordeal.
This is particularly true for Tennis Australia who have released a statement admitting that they did have concerns for the welfare of Jelena while she was playing for them.
“Some officials even went as far as lodging police complaints, which without co-operation from those directly involved, unfortunately could not be fully investigated.” – Tennis Australia, November 2017
With the revelation of this abuse, there may be questions surrounding sport and the ways in which sporting organisations deal with these issues.
There were certainly people who knew of Jelena’s situation and while they did take action, there was no positive outcome from that.
As a result of this autobiography there may be further fall out from these revelations, and rightly so.