The stories of abuse being told by former tennis champ Jelena Dokic have left Australians horrified. In her new autobiography Unbreakable, Dokic alleges that her father and coach, Damir, once beat her to the point of unconsciousness, and would whip her with a leather belt because of “a mediocre training session, a loss, a bad mood”.
This isn’t the first time Dokic has accused her father of physical abuse. She spoke out in 2009, saying she had to flee her family to escape the violence. That same year, her father was sentenced to 15 months’ jail for threatening the Australian ambassador to Serbia and possessing illegal weapons.
Questions are being asked. Surely people knew the abuse was going on? Why didn’t anyone do anything about it?
“There were many in tennis at the time who were concerned for Jelena’s welfare, and many who tried to assist with what was a difficult family situation,” Tennis Australia said in a statement on Sunday.
“Some officials even went as far as lodging police complaints, which without cooperation from those directly involved, unfortunately could not be fully investigated.”
Sadly, over the years, there have been many young tennis players whose fathers have become notorious for their abusive behaviour.
In 2014, it was reported that a Romanian junior player, Ioana Andrada Surdeanu, was left with a bleeding nose after being hit in the face by her father and coach, Lucian. She had just lost a quarter-final match at a tournament in Israel. Her father spent the night in jail and was fined.
But the 16-year-old player defended her father on Facebook.
“I deserved it,” she wrote. “It was my fault because I’ve yelled and said some words to him. I was irresponsible after all the sacrifices he made for me.”
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, who made it to the finals of the Australian Open earlier this year, has claimed she had to flee Croatia as a teenager to escape the abuse inflicted by her father and coach, Marinko Lucic.
“There have been more beatings than anyone can imagine,” she said at the time.