I WAS TOR­TURED T

Jelena Dokic is one of the bright­est ten­nis stars Aus­tralia has ever pro­duced, but her fans al­ways knew there was some­thing dark about the re­la­tion­ship be­tween her and her pow­er­ful, over­bear­ing fa­ther Damir Dokic. Now, in an up­com­ing au­to­bi­og­ra­phy writ­ten

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - OPINION OURS & YOURS - JULY 2000

I don’t know where my dad is. I’m stand­ing in the plush Wim­ble­don p play­ers’ lounge wait­ing, look­ing around for him: we’re due to go out for a nice din­ner with my man­agers, Ivan and John.

I am 17 years old and I have j just played in the semi-fi­nals. Of Wim­ble­don. Surely, you’d think, he would be OK that I got this far at the All Eng­land Club. You would think.

At the end of the match, as I shook Lind­say’s hand, I looked up to the stands and saw my fa­ther bolt out of his green seat, noth­ing but the back of his burly frame rush­ing from Wim­ble­don’s Cen­tre Court.

Usu­ally af­ter my matches, he stands around some­where near the play­ers’ lounge and I have to find him. But today there’s nei­ther sight nor sound of him.

I called his mo­bile af­ter I fin­ished my press du­ties and he didn’t pick up.

This has been my great­est run ever in a grand slam and I want to know what he’ll say, and to or­gan­ise how we will get to din­ner with Ivan and John. So I call him again, and this time, fi­nally, he picks up.

The dull slur in his slow, loud voice tells me he is drunk. I know this tone; it’s the tone of white wine and prob­a­bly a few glasses of whisky.

He is an­gry. Furious that I lost. His voice booms down the phone. ‘You are pa­thetic, you are a hope­less cow, you are not to come home.

‘You are an em­bar­rass­ment. You can’t stay at our ho­tel.’

‘But, Dad …’ I say qui­etly, try­ing to plead with him.

‘You need to go and find some­where else to sleep,’ he yells at the top of his voice. ‘Stay at Wim­ble­don and sleep there some­where … Or wher­ever else. I don’t care.’ He hangs up. I have just made the semi­fi­nals of Wim­ble­don. But in my fa­ther’s eyes I am not good enough to come home.

Play­ers around me are get­ting on with life, chat­ting, eat­ing din­ner, wind­ing down with their coaches. I am alone and shattered. I have no money — well, no access to it — no credit card. It is Dad who has all that.

He con­trols ev­ery­thing in my life.

Emo­tion starts to over­whelm me. Fail­ure — I’m a fail­ure. Min­utes tick by, and then hours.

I tuck my­self away on a small couch in the cor­ner of the play­ers’ lounge, hop­ing no one notices me, and even­tu­ally the place is empty.

At around 11pm the cleaner ar­rives. She sees me in the cor­ner and comes over. ‘You can’t stay here,’ she says softly. I make the con­fes­sion: ‘I have nowhere to sleep tonight.’ As I say it, the re­al­ity hits me. The tears prick in the cor­ner of my eyes.

‘I have to let the tour­na­ment author­i­ties know,’ she says.

Wim­ble­don’s ref­eree, Alan Mills, ar­rives. ‘What hap­pened?’ he asks gen­tly. ‘I have nowhere to go,’ I say. ‘I have nowhere to sleep.’

Hot tears are run­ning down my face, but I don’t let on that my own fa­ther has ban­ished me: as al­ways I must pro­tect him.

Alan, how­ever, seems to know what’s go­ing on. My man­age­ment agency, Ad­van­tage, has rented a beau­ti­ful house in Wim­ble­don vil­lage; Alan calls my man­agers and they say they will take me in. He ar­ranges for a tour­na­ment car to take me to the house.

I ar­rive sob­bing and Ivan and John look con­cerned when they see me. They ex­plain they’d called my dad ear­lier in the evening try­ing to lo­cate us, and my nine-year-old brother, Savo, an­swered. John says he could hear my fa­ther’s voice in the back- ground. Ap­par­ently Savo said sim­ply ‘My dad isn’t here’.

I am both heart­bro­ken by my fa­ther’s re­jec­tion and em­bar­rassed by it. I’m shown to the spare room.

At least I didn’t get a beat­ing from him. As I wait for sleep, through the shock and hurt I start to re­alise that i might never make my fa­ther happy. That I might never be good enough in his eyes.

AUS­TRALIA, 1994

Ev­ery morn­ing I wake at home and wor­ries as­sail my mind be­fore I have even lifted my head off the pil­low.

How can I make sure he doesn't hurt me today? How can I make sure he doesn’t ex­plode? These days that's hard — he’s get­ting more ag­gres­sive.

It feels as though ever since we walked through the doors of Syd­ney Air­port he has been pan­icked, fear­ful and mis­er­able. His eyes are now never soft like they some­times were in Ser­bia; he is still griev­ing the death of his fa­ther.

Nor have my par­ents been able to get jobs. Once. more, at times our main meals are bread and mar­garine with salt. On the day be­fore we are due to re­ceive our fort­nightly govern­ment ben­e­fit we are usu­ally down to our last eight dol­lars, and six of those must be spent on train and bus fares for Dad and me to get to White City.

For­tu­nately my work is pay­ing off. At White City, on my hec--

Damir Dokic and Jelena Dokic at the US Open in

Septem­ber 2000. Right: Jelena this year.

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