The life and times of Jelena Dokic

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Jelena Dokic was one of the brightest players of her generation but couldn’t hold it together for sustained periods. After reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals in 2000, the Serbian-Australian became a top 10 mainstay for the next two years before losing it altogether afterwards.

What caused this downward spiral? Many tennis pundits would suggest personal issues with her father. Damir Dokic, who was also her coach, grabbed the headlines with his threats and out-of-line comments which destroyed his daughter’s career in the process. To refresh your memory, here is a timeline of the trouble and controversy.

2000: Draws criticism after declaring an opponent she lost to as a “player who has never been a player and, I guess, probably never will be.”

2001: Switches allegiance to Yugoslavia.

2001: After losing to Lindsay Davenport in the first-round of the Australian Open, Damir Dokic said “I think the draw is fixed just for her.”

2006: Represents Australia for the first time in five years.

2006: Damir Dokic threatens to kidnap his daughter and kill an Australian for her returning to the country.

2007: After cutting ties with her entire family, Dokic battles depression and weight gain.

2009: Damir Dokic is jailed for 15 months for threatening to blow up Australia’s ambassador to Belgrade.

As of July 2012, the 29 year-old is once again off the tennis court, resting an injury she had carried throughout the year. The former World No. 4 had a promising 2011 season, winning her first title in nine years and finished the year in the top 100. Whether or not she decides to play on, nothing will ever alter her image as a player with talent left unfulfilled.


5 Responses to “The life and times of Jelena Dokic”

  1. 1 janice August 2, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    huge exaggeration “one of the brightest players of her generation” Dokic never got the respect from the tennis establishment. The sport just disrespected her& treated her quite abusively. @ age 16, she was trashed widely after her big win against hingis. They wrote her off as a fluke player. She was refused entry to tournaments when she was eliglble The tour often fined her ranking points & money for her comments in an interview, if she questioned the umpires bad calls. She was given a LOT of bad calls, refused service at the majors, insulted by press & players, never recognized or appreciated for her work ethic & willingness to promote the sport. She was cheated out of her earnings by the tour & by agents. She took legal action against tennis & her agent after having never received her earning after 3 years on the tennis tour. Many sponsors were interested in signing her but tour officials & rival agents went out of their way bad mouthing her, sullying her reputation in the media with abuse stories & negative press about her father/family. It was done in order to ruin sponsor interest in her & it worked as her deals were redirected to players like Sharapova & others. The agents & tour officials didn’t like her & would not support her working to destroy her tennis popularity. There’s more to tennis than what the public sees. She was bludgeoned off the tennis courts with bad calls this was long before the days of hawk-eye which even today you are only allowed 3 reviews per set. Her parents can be blamed for encouraging her to remain in a sport where she is despised and treated as “anathema” as described by tennis reporter Jon Wertheim, in his book “Venus Envy.” Her agent who was also Hingis’ agent threatened her to loose the 4th round US open match or he’d have her faced burned with acid. Out of fear she threw this match against Hingis.
    She had been stalked & assaulted while on tour, offered no security & no protection as her hotel rooms had been broken into many times. The players were hostile as well & there was an atmosphere of physical violence, verbal abuse & possible sexual abuse a.k.a “running down a player. The tour often placed her in the uncomfortable situation of working with angry lesbians who hated her father or wanted to seduce Jelena. This was all going on while she was still just a teenager & it had to affect her psyche. Her peers were often jealous & hostile due to media attention. She was humiilated weekly at tennis events as “a top player who wasn’t worthy” Her seedings & rankings were stripped for other players (davenport 2003 US open, daniela hantuchova, Dia Bedanova, etc, ). She was top seed at tournaments but shunted to the back courts to cater to other players even though she had more popularity. The tour worked her into a grueling schedule back then they directed players schedules if they didn’t have a strong support team behind their career. Jelena had little protection as Australia resents her & never accepted because she wasn’t native born, one of their own. Her massive talent was deeply hated down their & she got no protection from the Aussies. The father left Australia after the 2000 Olympics where the Aussie umpires ruled several key calls against Jelena & she failed to advance to the gold medal match. Later it was the same in the bronze medal match. Disgusted her father left Australia stating “they don’t do nothing for Jelena they rig draws & matches against her the want her to fail.”
    Dokic was terrified it stated in a legal brief filed by her lawyers. Rather than going through with her lawsuit against the Octagon agency, under the advisement of her mother/parents she chose to settle. This was a huge mistake as she then became the victim of retaliation from her former agency. She found that sports agency would touch her. The WTA tour also sided with her agency & retaliated against her which accounted for the huge ranking drop she experienced in 2002 one year after mediation. Umpires were ordered to “get her out of the tournaments. Dokic began to loose her mental toughness resigned to the fact that she was “supposed to lose” due to the stance taken against her by the sport. The mother influence upon the daughter is huge despite that the father is publicly promoted as the “villain of her life. She adopts a passive go along to get along stance by the mom and is resigned to accepting whatever abuse the sport brings her way. She began to suffer a nervous break down which revealing that she now suffers from mental depression(not inherited) . Why is dokic playing for Australia today? She is likely one sick disturbed person.

    Sorry for the super long post but it’s is needed to bring some perspective to the fallacy about this player. Tennis is a corrupt & dirty business not everything reported is fully accurate.

  2. 2 janice August 2, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    From the beginning the Octagon plan for her career was “She’ll be a top 10 player for a bit” She lasted 2 season in the top 10.. Nothing more no more potential than that. Maybe it was because her federation one of the most powerful in tennis didn’t stand behind her, refused to support her & resents her. Dokic is no favorite of Australia, despite the foolish lies promoted in the media down under..

    Australia has NEVER supported Jelena Dokic they don’t like her at all. . They’ve never given her a really good coach or put together a good team for her. Despite that this girl was a massively talented prodigy. Having the support of your federation is hugely important. There exist many sharks who will take advantage of a player. This happened to Jelena. Politics, resentment, jealousy, racism etc all these things can affect a career. These can play a part int the building up or the destruction of any tennis career. Australia played a key role in blocking Jelena Dokic from participating in the 2004, 2008 & 2012 Olympics. Even before her recent wrist injury there was no plan to name her to the Olympic team. Why the Olympics? Probably due to the fact that she lists the games as the most significant & most loved achievement of her entire career/life. She looked forward to even just representing.

    Jelena Dokic has NEVER been included in any WTA or Australian publicity campaigns for tennis and this includes when she was a top player & easily became the most popular player in tennis & was the #1 tennis player in Europe. Dokic always took a LOT of beatings from inferior players due to deliberately bad umpiring. She was then labeled “inconsistent” by tennis. When I look at this player far back in 1999 at Wimbledon I see a complete player with great serving, great movement, powerful accurate ground game, & good variety. Excellent ball striking. A player with popular appeal, personality, ambition backed by ability & lots of flair. Today she’s a out of shape, passive & broken down simply playing for a check cause she knows nothing else. The WTA had a program to transition older unproductive players into careers inside tennis & even beyond tennis. This program still exists. Yet wonder why no assistance is given to Jelena Dokic?? She still considered anathema. Something to laugh at because she has no pride. She is an abuse case but I believe that tennis is responsible for a lot of her abuse as well. Her father was weak. Her mother is the one driving the failed tennis career, driving her daughter into the ground of moral decay & insanity. Tragic story but it would make a dynamite movie about tennis.

  3. 3 janice August 2, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    In 2000 Damir Dokic was banned from tennis & being with his daughter still a minor. In 2001 Damir Dokic was beaten by security guards@ the US Open after he complained about the surly attitude of the black woman serving the fish & the high price for such disrespectful service. He was kicked out of the tournament. He was banned from event because he cheered his daughter. Damir left the tour permanently in 2001. Damir Dokic gave up on Jelena’s tennis career in 2005. His statements have been true. He returned to his native war torn (Yugoslavia) now broken up he relocated in Serbia & began building a new life producing apricot brandy the national drink of serbia. He’s revitalized the small town with jobs and built a house on sprawling acres of land. Part of this will go to Jelena maybe? It will be the only thing she will have left in this world. Damir & his wife divorced & an embittered wife concocted the story in the Aussie press that had him locked up. Serbia has no laws against keeping firearms. This Aussie ambassador never showed up revealing the story to be a fabrication. Damir was released after serving 11 months in jail w/o needed medicine. It was an attempt the wife to kill him & take possession of his estate, She would’ve run through the money and the only assets this family has left.
    Jelena is pretty much worthless imo. She could use tennis to market this Serbian brandy to many of the hotels,& tennis venues to which she’s traveled world wide. Take online business/marketing courses or find another sport or commit to fitness and buy/build up the spa located in vrdnik Serbia or go elsewhere.Start a family, go to school, run a business. Do something else other than tennis. Jelena is a loser because she can’t accept moving on in life.

    • 4 protourtennis September 14, 2012 at 6:53 am

      Thank you very much for your insightful comments. It is such a pity that in the Australian tennis establishment, we have not been able to nurture enough players to a stage where they become champions.

  4. 5 truthseeker August 30, 2013 at 11:25 pm

    That was quite a long & interesting read Janice. However in response to protourtennis Australia does have Hewitt & Stosur as champions. But if you are comparing the situation to Australia’s glorious past then yes I agree. There’s something wrong within federation system & the right people aren’t running the programs. I thought the Aussies had the tradition giving all the past champs they’ve had. But could it be that these tennis minds have run dry & have nothing else to give to the game? I don’t care if she’s controversial down there Margaret Court should be retained as a consultant to Australia’s tennis development programs or retained in an advisory capacity instead of being shunned for her religious beliefs. She’s the greatest of all time & what she can offer can be valuable to families who are looking to succeed in tennis. The media & all the public relations is damaging to the well being of young players being subjected to constant criticism IMO. Too much politics has ruined the sport there. Politics has no place in sport.

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