Aussie tennis star Jelena Dokic has been courtside this week, working as a commentator at the Australian Open.
But, as she has shared on her social media today, her experience at the event has been tainted by trolls posting hateful comments about her body.
“The body shaming and fat shaming over the last 24 hours has been insane,” Jelena wrote on Instagram alongside screenshots of some of the comments she’s seen. “It’s disgusting. People should be so ashamed.”
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In the same caption, Jelena explained that while the “evil” fat phobic messages are “insane”, the most common comment she gets is a question – a question she has answered.
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“The most common comment being: ‘What happened to her, she is so big?’ I will tell you what happened, I am finding a way and surviving and fighting. And it really doesn’t matter what I am doing and what happened because size shouldn’t matter. Kindness and being a good person matters which those of you that abuse me and others, are clearly not.
“What matters is your online abuse, bullying and fat shaming. That’s what matters because those of you that do it are just evil, bad, mean and ignorant people. I can and will get in shape for myself and my health but you will not become a better person.
“Weight will change but evil people will remain evil.”
Jelena has been open about her mental health struggles in the past, sharing she almost took her own last year.
In an Instagram post published in June 2022, the tennis commentator and former world No.4 said she will “never forget” what happened on April 28, 2022.
“Everything is blurry. Everything is dark. No tone, no picture, nothing makes sense… just tears, sadness, depression, anxiety and pain,” she wrote alongside a photo of herself crying.
“The last six months have been tough,” she continued.
“It’s been constant crying everywhere. From hiding in the bathroom when at work, to wipe away my tears so that nobody sees it. To the unstoppable crying at home within my four walls has been unbearable.”
The 39-year-old went on to say that seeking professional help “saved her life” and she’s now on the road to recovering.
“I am writing this because I know I am not the only one struggling. Just know that you are not alone. I am not going to say that I am doing great now, but I am definitely on the road to recovery.”
“Some days are better than others and sometimes I take a step forward and then a step back, but I’m fighting and I believe I can get through this.”
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Love you all and here is to fighting and surviving to live and see another day. I will be back stronger than ever,” she concluded the post.
Fellow sporting stars were quick to show their support, including tennis player Mark Philippoussis, track cyclist Anna Meares and swimmer Leisel Jones.
“Just remember every day you get through is another page in your book. Stronger and stronger each day,” Leisel commented under the post.
Following the brave way Jelena has opened up about her personal life and struggles, we feel its time to get to know this tennis great – so here’s everything we know about Jelena Dokic’s family life and career.
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Jelena Dokic’s early life and allegedly abusive father.
Before she became an Aussie tennis legend, Jelena was born and raised in war-torn Croatia.
She started playing tennis at six years old before her family fled to Serbia as refugees when she was eight.
Three years later, her family would relocate once more to Sydney, Australia.
Here, Jelena would forge her career as one of tennis’ golden girls.
At 16, she defeated world number one Martina Hingis at Wimbledon, and later achieved a career-high ranking of world No.4 in 2002.
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But while she found success on the courts, behind close doors, she was allegedly abused by her father and coach, Damir Dokic.
In her 2017 autobiography, Unbreakable, Jelena detailed being punched, kicked, spat at, pulled by her hair, struck with a belt, and on one occasion knocked unconscious by her father, whose rage was triggered by “a mediocre training session (or) a loss, a bad mood”.
The abuse allegedly started when she was six – the age she first picked up a racquet – and continued for years.
“You get to a stage after that happening for a couple of years, where it’s just your everyday life, and you accept it as being, I’d say, normal,” she told The Project in 2017. “That’s what my life was about, and that’s what I had to deal with literally on a day-to-day basis, and it was always something.”
“Even at times when it wasn’t physical, which was very rare, it was emotional. There was always something I didn’t do right.”
In an extract from her autobiography, Jelena described being left inside the grounds of the All England Club by her father after she lost to American Lindsay Davenport at the Wimbledon semi-finals in 2000.
“I have just made the semi-ﬁnals of Wimbledon. But in my father’s eyes I am not good enough to come home,” she wrote.
Recalling a phone conversation she had with Damir after the game, Jelena said, “He is angry. Furious that I lost. His voice booms down the phone. ‘You are pathetic, you are a hopeless cow, you are not to come home. You are an embarrassment. You can’t stay at our hotel.’”
“‘You need to go and ﬁnd somewhere else to sleep,’ he yells at the top of his voice. ‘Stay at Wimbledon and sleep there somewhere… Or wherever else. I don’t care.’”
Her autobiography wasn’t the first time she spoke up against her father.
In 2009, she told Fairfax she had to leave her family to escape the violence. That same year, her father was sentenced to 15 months in jail for threatening the Australian ambassador to Serbia and possessing illegal weapons.
In 2019, she told Now To Love she’s now officially cut ties with her father.
“I’ve made my peace with that,” she told the publication.
“I haven’t done anything wrong. You can’t change things that happen. It is what it is. You can’t choose your parents and your family and that’s fine.”