Australia

Jelena Dokic alleges she was ‘kicked unconscious’ aged 16 just before the US Open

Former tennis world No.4 Jelena Dokic has revealed the shocking level of abuse she allegedly endured as a teenager as the Aussie star calls for a global approach toward stopping abusive tennis coaches and parents.

It comes after the savage footage that was released this week of a Chinese man striking and then kicking his 14-year-old court on a tennis court in Belgrade, Serbia.

His actions were widely condemned in the tennis community with the likes of former doubles world No.1 Pam Shriver, Belarusian former world No.1 Victoria Azarenka and Patrick Mouratoglou, the coach of Romanian star Simona Halep speaking out. 

Dokic, speaking on Today on Friday morning, said the video highlighted the ongoing abuse that allegedly occurs in the sport – including her own personal trauma. 

‘As someone who’s been through it, I know what that feels like, I know what that looks like after an assault like this,’ she said.

‘I was actually kicked until I was unconscious a week before the US Open when I was 16 – and it wasn’t the only time.

‘Unfortunately, what also happens behind closed doors is even worse, there’s no doubt about that.

‘Unfortunately, you had to get to this – and to be filmed for this long – for us to be able to see what that actually looks like.

‘Now we actually need to do something about this. This is what I was talking about all along when I came out with my story, that this happens and I’m not the first or the last.

‘It is about how we deal with it and are we doing enough?’ 

The horrifying moment the father strikes his daughter in the face on a tennis court in Belgrade, Serbia. He would then pull her to the ground and kick her

Dokic admitted the video was ‘triggering’ and ‘sickening’ and she considered remaining silent. 

But she felt compelled to speak out in a bid to prevent young players – especially girls – being abused on the tour. 

‘I thought twice about posting it as well on my social media, even though I definitely believe in us talking about it and showing it,’ she said.

‘Because that is the reality, this is the ugly side of sport and tennis unfortunately and it needs to be talked about.

‘I don’t think it’s talked about enough. What is being done?’

Shockingly, Dokic said the man behind the attack in the viral video this week allegedly assaulted another member of the Serbian tennis community just weeks before. 

‘Allegedly, the father and the coach of this 14-year-old girl beat up someone at a tennis academy a few weeks ago. He has done this to this girl as well,’ she said.

‘My question is, why is this happening? He was banned from a couple of clubs but then he can continue to be at different clubs and different tournaments.

‘The system clearly is broken, there is something missing, I don’t think there is enough communication, either.

Dokic reacts during a news conference at the US Open in 2000 after the completion of her singles match

Dokic reacts during a news conference at the US Open in 2000 after the completion of her singles match

‘I don’t think there is enough in place. We need to have registers in place and lists for coaches and parents.

‘If you have done this already and you are banned from a club or an academy, you shouldn’t be allowed to step anywhere near a tennis club.

‘Also, where can these kids and these players go to? Can we have an anonymous platform to get help? Who is looking after these kids?

‘Someone needs to be responsible for the wellbeing of these young kids, especially girls.’

Jelena Dokic returns a shot against Amelie Mauresmo during a Brisbane International tennis tournament match in Brisbane, Australia

Jelena Dokic returns a shot against Amelie Mauresmo during a Brisbane International tennis tournament match in Brisbane, Australia

Dokic has vowed to continue to speak out against violence towards young players and wants to see a global approach toward punishing the guilty.  

‘I’m certainly going to try and drive this change and push for this, that’s what I’ve done all along,’ she said.

‘I hope that the rest of the tennis community does as well. Players, ex-players, coaches.

‘I think that Tennis Australia is a leader in the world because since my case, there is a lot in place when it comes to this kind of thing happening here.’ 


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