Jelena Dokic reveals father's abuse: He beat me... spat in my face... kicked me in the head
Jelena Dokic has revealed that her father used to regularly beat and kick her, and sometimes spat in her face from a young age.
The former world No 4, who rose to prominence by defeating Martina Hingis in the opening round of Wimbledon in 1999, writes of the treatment by her father and coach, Damir, in an autobiography that will be released this week.
“Not just the physical pain but the emotional [pain], that was the one what hurt me the most . . . when you are 11, 12 years old and hear all those nasty things...that was more difficult for me.”
The father of tennis star Jelena Dokic, Damir Dokic, gives an interview for a Serbian daily newspaper in his office in Vrdnik, near Novi Sad, on May 6, 2009. Damir Dokic was arrested on May 6, 2009 for having threatened the Australian ambassador to SerbiaGetty Images
Dokic adds that her father would also pull her hair and ears and kick her in the shins.
“The dull slur in his slow, loud voice tells me he is drunk.” Dokic writes of their conversation after the match:
"I know this tone; it’s the tone of white wine and probably a few glasses of whisky. 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'."
“‘But, Dad...’ I say quietly, trying to plead with him. ‘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. I don’t care.’ ”
Tournament referee Alan Mills finally found Dokic alone in the players’ lounge and found somewhere for her to stay.
In the same summer in Canada, Damir beat Jelena unconscious. “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,” Dokic writes of the encounter.
Tennis Australia, while praising Dokic's courage in exposing the problem, also defended how it acted at the time, saying an official had spoken to the relevant authorities.
“There were many in tennis at the time who were concerned for Jelena's welfare, and many who tried to assist with what was a difficult family situation,” read a statement.
"Some officials even went as far as lodging police complaints, which without cooperation from those directly involved, unfortunately could not be fully investigated."
Damir Dokic was banned from all WTA events following unruly behaviour, which included threatening public officials and accusing Australian Open organisers of fixing the 2001 draw.
He also went to prison for threatening and Australian ambassador and possessing illegal weapons.
Jelena Dokic began playing tennis aged 8 and her family emigrated to Sydney, Australia in 1994. Although she played the Fed Cup for her adopted country, her father forced her to switch allegiance to represent Serbia in 2001.
Dokic won five titles at the top level of the game, before retiring in 2014.