In a new autobiography, former Australian tennis star Jelena Dokic has detailed the abuse she suffered at the hands of father Damir.
In the book, Unbreakable, Dokic alleges her father once beat her so badly she lost consciousness, while subjecting her to a torrent of verbal abuse throughout her childhood.
The abuse became so intense, she writes, that there were moments when suicide struck her as the only possible escape.
Dokic alleges her father whipped her with a leather belt because of a “mediocre training session [or] a loss, a bad mood”, and also spat in her face, pulled her hair and ears, while kicking her in the shins with pointed dress shoes.
Damir Dokic’s alleged constant verbal abuse included calling his teenage daughter a “slut” and “whore”.
“He beat me really badly,” Dokic told The Sunday Telegraph.
“It basically started day one of me playing tennis. It continued on from there. It spiralled out of control.
“[The beatings] happened almost on a daily basis, but I also struggled with the emotional situation.
“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.”
Jelena Dokic said the worst beating she ever received saw her lose consciousness, following a first-round loss at the du Maurier Open in Canada in 2000.
“It was a really nasty memory that will stay with me forever … I ended up fainting. He beat me really badly,” she said.
“The better I played, the worse he got, which is the one thing I couldn’t understand,” she added.
It was in 2009 that Jelena Dokic revealed Damir had physically abused her when she was growing up. That revelation sparked a furious reaction from Damir, who threatened to blow up the car of Australia’s ambassador to Serbia.
Damir Dokic was arrested for making the threats and for possessing illegal weapons. He insisted the threats were “a joke” and that the weapons stash found in his home was a “souvenir” from the war in Croatia.
Jelena Dokic also revealed that when she was just 17 in 2000, Damir abandoned her at Wimbledon after a semi-final loss to Davenport, refusing to allow her to return to the hotel room Jelena was paying for and was left to sleep at the courts.
Biggest regret was switching nationalities
Despite the alleged beatings, Jelena Dokic says her biggest regret was her father’s decision to force her to switch nationalities from Australia to Yugoslavia in 2001.
Damir Dokic had accused Australian Open organisers of fixing the 2001 draw to ensure his daughter’s early exit after a first-round loss to Lindsay Davenport, before moving his family out of Australia.
“If there is one thing I could take back what he did or certain decisions, leave all the physical stuff and abuse, this was the one I regret,” Jelena Dokic said.
“If I could turn back time, I would like to take back him making me switch from playing for Australia and playing for Yugoslavia … a few years later I came back and played for Australia … but so much damage was done.”
Yet Jelena Dokic says she does not hate her father.
“I tried to make things better [between us] but it is not an easy thing to do,” she said.
“I don’t think he understands the things he has done. I don’t think he has taken the responsibility … it’s difficult to find a middle ground with him. It’s either his way or that’s it.”
In a statement late on Sunday night, Tennis Australia said it would “continue to support her in any way we can”.
— TennisAustralia (@TennisAustralia) November 12, 2017
The Daily Telegraph said Damir Dokic, who now lives in Serbia, did not respond to attempts to contact him for a response.