It was no secret to anyone watching the rise of Australian tennis player Jelena Dokic that her father and coach, Damir, had a temper and was a tough task master.
But, only now has the full extent of his severe and brutal mentoring come to light.
Jelena, now aged 34, has penned an autobiography documenting the years of torture she endured, from the moment she picked up a tennis racquet at the age of six, until she left home 13 years later.
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Unbroken hits the shelves on Monday and tells of physical beatings, whippings and verbal abuse that she says “would hurt more”.
In a tell-all interview with Stellar magazine, Jelena admits people are shocked when they hear what her father unleashed on his young daughter.
“I am confused about some of the things that happened… I was doing well, results-wise and money-wise,” Jelena tells Stellar, while explaining how she was whipped by a belt on her bare back almost daily and spat at in the face.
His verbal abuse included labelling her “a whore”, “prostitute” and “bitch”.
“For me, at times, it wasn’t the physical abuse that hurt the most. The public embarrassment and [his] words would hurt more.”
— The Daily Telegraph (@dailytelegraph) November 11, 2017
The article goes on to detail a host of shocking scenarios and the tragic revelation that Jelena considered taking her own life.
There was the time when Jelena was forced to sleep in the player’s lounge at Wimbledon. Her father had banned her from returning to the hotel where her family was staying, claiming she had brought shame on him for not winning her semi-final against Lindsay Davenport. A cleaner found her asleep curled up in a small ball on a couch at the All England Club. She was 17.
He would skol pint glasses of white wine before watching Jelena’s matches, then drunkenly shame her from the sidelines in Wimbledon, Melbourne Park and beyond.
After a loss at the 2000 du Maurier Open in Montreal, Damir made her stand for hours on end, starving her of food and repeatedly kicking her in the shins with his sharp-toed dress shoes. A blow to the head that night knocked her to the ground; while she was down, Damir kicked her in the head again. That barrage put her out cold for a few moments.
“It was hard to take, but I am still here,” she says.
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