Everyday Heroes: Jelena Dokic
Australian tennis star and world champion Jelena Dokic stunned the Australian public recently when she announced the release of her autobiography, Unbreakable. In the book, she details the harrowing emotional and physical abuse she suffered at the hands of her father throughout her career, on and off the court. In light of Dokic’s resilience and bravery for coming forward with her story, we would like to honour her as an Everyday Hero.
For Dokic, the constant abuse became a “normal” part of life
Every one of her achievements as a professional athlete had a darker story lying underneath, Dokic reveals. Even her remarkable second-place result at the Wimbledon semi-finals was not enough for her father. In a horrifying story, Dokic speaks about how her father refused to let her come home after that match, leaving her to try to sleep alone in the player’s lounge. Tennis Australia released a statement that several officials filed concerns about the young Dokic’s welfare. Unfortunately, due to a lack of cooperation, these reports could not be investigated fully.
Dokic’s father was known for causing public outbursts
At the Word for Word Festival in November, Dokic went into more detail on her experience. The isolation that she suffered, due to her brother being much younger than she was, felt even more immense under the scrutiny of the Australian public. Dokic observes that the Australian media was largely flippant about her situation, often turning her father into a spectacle. “They often made him into sort of a joke,” Dokic said, bewildered. “I just didn’t see how it was funny.”
Eventually she escaped the household at just nineteen
It was in 2002 that Dokic fled the family for good. Thinking it would appease her father, she signed her entire career and earnings over to him. “I just left with my racquet bag and my suitcase, with not a dollar to my name,” she said. The abuse did not stop, however, and Dokic’s father continued to verbally harass her through the phone. At the festival in Geelong, Jelena reveals that she went through a very severe depression in that time, and her isolation only deepened.
If just one person had come up to me and asked me how I was, that would have made all the difference.
Dokic released her book in the hopes that her story would help others
With the release of her story, Dokic not only takes back her own voice but shines a light on some of the problems in the professional sport industry. Dokic spoke about how she hopes her story helps people to stand up when they see something that might be wrong.
If this book can help one person, then it’s mission accomplished.
Hero Town are awed by Dokic’s bravery and recognising the bystanders to her story is incredibly important. For more inspirational stories of heroism, like Hero Town Geelong on Facebook. We also hope that Dokic’s story will inspire people to take action. Find out more about how you can become an everyday hero and take a stand today.