Former tennis world No. 4 Jelena Dokic has revealed the shocking level of abuse she reportedly endured as a teenager, as the Australian star calls for a global approach to stop abusive tennis coaches and parents.
It comes after savage footage was released this week showing a Chinese man hitting and kicking his 14-year-old daughter on a tennis court in Belgrade, Serbia.
His actions were widely condemned in the tennis community with people like former number 1 in doubles Pam Shriver, Belarusian former world number 1 Victoria Azarenka and Patrick Mouratoglou, the coach of Romanian star Simona Halep speaking out.
Speaking on Today Friday morning, Dokic said the video highlighted the ongoing abuse allegedly perpetuated 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 attack like this,” she said.
“I was kicked until I passed out a week before the US Open when I was 16 – and that wasn’t the only time.
“Unfortunately, whatever happens behind closed doors is even worse, there is no doubt about it.
“Unfortunately, you had to come here – and be filmed for so long – to see what it actually looks like.
‘We really have to do something about that now. This is what I was talking about all along when I came out with my story, that this is happening and that I am not the first or the last.
“It’s about how we deal with it and are we doing enough?”
The horrific moment when the father punches 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 staying silent.
But she felt compelled to speak out to prevent young players – especially girls – from being abused during the tour.
“I’ve thought twice about posting it on my social media as well, although I absolutely believe we’re talking about it and showing it,” she said.
Because that’s the reality, unfortunately this is the ugly side of sports and tennis and it needs to be talked about.
“I don’t think it’s been talked about enough. What’s being done?’
Shockingly, Dokic said the man behind the attack in this week’s viral video allegedly assaulted another member of the Serbian tennis community several weeks earlier.
The 14-year-old girl’s father and coach reportedly beat someone up at a tennis academy a few weeks ago. He did the same to this girl,’ she said.
My question is, why is this happening? He was suspended from a number of clubs, but could stay with different clubs and tournaments after that.
‘The system is clearly broken, something is missing, I also think there is not enough communication.
Dokic reacts during a press conference at the US Open in 2000 after her singles game
‘I don’t think there’s enough in place. We need to have records and lists for coaches and parents.
“If you’ve already done this and you’ve been banned from a club or an academy, don’t go near a tennis club.
“Besides, where can these kids and these players go? Can we have an anonymous platform to get help? Who takes care of these children?
“Someone has to be responsible for the well-being of these young children, especially girls.”
Jelena Dokic returns a shot to Amelie Mauresmo during a match of a Brisbane International tennis tournament in Brisbane, Australia
Dokic has vowed to continue to speak out against violence against young players and wants to see a global approach to punish the guilty.
“I’m definitely going to try to make this change and push for this, that’s what I’ve been doing all along,” she said.
“I hope the rest of the tennis community does too. Players, ex-players, coaches.
“I think Tennis Australia is a leader in the world because since my case a lot is in order when it comes to things like this that happen here.”
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