Jelena Dokic opens up about the last time she contacted her father Damir – and why she tried to reconcile with him despite his years of abuse
Former world number 4 tennis star Jelena Dokic has explained why she tried to reconcile with her abusive father Damir, as she revealed that she last had contact with him a decade ago.
The 40-year-old has long been open about the suffering she endured at the hands of her father, writing in her book Unbreakable that he regularly beat her with a belt or a barber’s boot and once knocked her out.
‘Even if I won, I would still be beaten and abused sometimes. I had some very difficult moments where I was punched and kicked and punched to the point of unconsciousness,’ she said.
Dokic – with her mother Ljiljana and father Damir at the 1999 US Open – tried unsuccessfully to repair her relationship with her father ‘once or twice’
The 40-year-old has long been open about the suffering she endured at the hands of her father when he was her tennis coach from a young age
Damir has been her coach throughout her career and Dokic said he ‘shut her down’ – and won’t accept anything less than perfection.
‘I’ve been quiet all my life. From the first day I started playing tennis, the No.1 rule was “Never tell anyone, or there will be massive, massive consequences,” she said of his domineering personality.
Now Dokic has opened up about the last time she was in contact with the man who left her mentally scarred.
‘I last had contact with him about 10 years ago. And yes, I even tried to reconcile with him once or twice,’ she told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“I think no matter what happens, you kind of hope that you might be able to save a relationship when it comes to family.
The former world number 4 (pictured playing at Wimbledon in 1999) revealed her father’s reaction to her approach made her realize she had to cut him out of her life
‘That dynamic is always very difficult. But it is very difficult when someone has no remorse or cannot say sorry.
‘In fact, what he says is that he would do it all over again. So, for me it is very, very difficult.
“I had to make a track and go, ‘I don’t need a toxic person or a toxic relationship in my life.’
Thankfully, the star player-turned-commentator is in a much better place with her brother and mother.
‘I have a good relationship with my brother, which I’m very happy about because my father used my brother and weaponized our relationship – not allowing me to speak to him for about seven years because he was so much younger than me,’ she said.
‘We talk almost every day, and also with my mother. I’ve had some difficult conversations with her because she was on my dad’s side – but we’re in a good place today.’
Dokic also revealed what she wanted the journalists who covered her career on the court to do when she was still being coached by Damir, who she said was ‘very aggressive and drunk’ during 90 per cent of the interviews he gave.
The Channel Nine commentator (pictured with Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka) turned mental health advocate and author
“I just wish someone would have said, ‘Look, there are two minor children going home with this person and that’s not right,'” she recalled.
“I wish maybe there was a little more concern instead of making him a joke and a punchline.”
Last June, Dokic shed light on the disturbing truth hidden behind a photo taken during her teenage years at the US Open.
In a deeply personal Instagram post, she revealed the harrowing experiences she has endured, including depression, social media abuse, body shaming and alleged violence inflicted by her father Damir throughout her career.
Sharing a photo of herself appearing distraught at a press conference, Dokic explained the torment she faced as a 17-year-old after she was allegedly physically assaulted by her father just weeks earlier.
Last year, Dokic took to Instagram to reveal the heartbreaking backstory of a seemingly innocent photo of her taken at the US Open (pictured)
“Young, 17 years old, in a media storm, knocked unconscious (sic) by my father only a few weeks before, trying so hard not to break down in the press conference,” she wrote.
‘Dealing with my father’s public and drunken outbursts while the world judges me and the media has many headlines.
‘Just a few years before, grew up in poverty, had no food on the table, no clothes, was a refugee twice, bullied, isolated, faced racism.
‘What followed only a few years after this photo was taken was that I almost committed suicide.
‘ Sad, broken, alone, in pain and deeply traumatized.
“It made me who I am today and I’m proud of it.”