Unbreakable – Sami talks to Jelena Dokic about her new book and brave battle
Unbreakable. It is the name of Jelena Dokic’s new book and it is a perfect word to describe this incredible woman.
Perhaps before hearing Jelena’s story I would have used words such as ‘solemn’, ‘disgruntled’, or ‘complex’ to describe the former tennis champion.
After hearing her story I feel ashamed. The former world number 4 player tells how many of us were almost entertained watching her abusive father’s crazy press conferences. He was often clearly drunk, and even more often, incredibly angry. Many of us thought Damir Dokic was plain bonkers but that was all we thought. Did anyone ask what was happening to his daughter behind closed doors? Did anyone ask if he was a fit parent to be in charge of a teenager? Did anyone question if he was bashing and torturing his own daughter to the point of rendering her unconscious?
What was happening was in fact his gutsy daughter was being kicked, spat upon, whipped, and bashed to the point of passing out until she finally left home broken hearted at the young age of 19.
Jelena told her harrowing and shocking story to a few hundred locals at the Maroochy RSL. You could have heard a pin drop in that huge room as the blonde told her story in plain and clear words. How could this be true? How did this happen in The Lucky Country? The former refugee told the silent crowd about the awful years that followed her arrival to Australia as a refugee from the former Yugoslavia. Jelena was emotionally tormented on a daily basis by her father and called words such as ‘whore’ and ‘slut’ from the age of 11. At school she suffered racism and bullying. Her family were so poor they often went without dinner and all slept on a cockroach infested mattress in one bedroom in Sydney. When Jelena started earning money from professional tennis every cent went to her father.
Can you imagine your pride if your child made it to The Wimbledon semi finals? Well Jelena was just 17 when she lost to Lindsay Davenport in the semis in the year 2000. Her punishment from her father was to be left at Wimbledon where she had to go to sleep with no dinner and hide in a corner of a change room. The athlete spent the night terrified someone would find her hiding in one of the most famous sporting institutions in the world. Her father returned to a hotel room that Jelena was actually paying for.
Jelena finally summonsed up the courage to leave her abusive father but before she did so she signed over millions of dollars to the controlling coach.
They no longer speak and Damir lives in Serbia. Jelena became suicidal but has pulled herself back from the dark world of depression. Jelena remains close with her younger brother but her relationship with her mother is understandably strained considering her mum just stood by and watched the horrid abuse. It has taken 3 decades for her to feel loved by this country and she says it is a beautiful feeling to see people’s reaction when they hear all she has endured.
Jelena’s story in her new book is one we should all read because there is a really important message in it: if you suspect there is a problem in a family please tell someone. And if someone at school or work seems distant and perhaps even defensive then do not judge him or her until you have walked an hour in their shoes.
Jelena’s dream is now to have children. I hope this comes true for this amazing woman and I hope holding those bubs help to heal some of the wounds.