MELBOURNE Jan 19 Jelena Dokic struggled to hold
back her emotions at the Australian Open on Monday as she
finally revealed the extent of the pain and torment she has
endured since breaking up with her own family.
Dokic was all smiles after she registered her first win at
Melbourne Park in a decade by beating Austria's Tamira Paszek
6-2 3-6 6-4 but broke down at her post-match news conference as
she recounted her family problems.
"I went through hell and back," she said, her voice cracking
as tears welled in her eyes.
"I pretty much lost my family. I had no-one there. I was
"I battled severe depression for about two years. I didn't
play for months at a time. I was really seriously thinking about
not playing. It was a tough time in my life."
Dokic said she still does not speak with her father but is
now trying to mend her relationship with her mother and brother.
"As soon as I left home, my relationship went down the hill
with my dad. It went down the hill with my whole family," said
the 25-year-old, adding she had put on weight and did not even
pick up a racket for seven months.
"The biggest thing I regret is my brother, who's eight years
younger than me. I didn't have contact with him for years until
the last 12 months. That was the hardest thing to deal with.
"But, I still feel like I've lost them. I'll try my best to
do what I can to patch up my things with my brother and my mom."
Dokic was once regarded as one of the brightest prospects in
women's tennis when she reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon in
2000 and a world ranking of four but her early success was
overshadowed by events off the court.
In 1999, her father was cited for drunk and disorderly
conduct after an incident at a tournament in England, where he
lay down in the middle of the road after being ejected from the
The following year, he was thrown out of Wimbledon after he
smashed a journalist's mobile phone and was then evicted from
the U.S. Open following an outburst over the price of salmon in
In 2001, he accused Australian Open organisers of rigging
the draw to ensure his daughter lost in the first round, then
ordered his family to leave Australia and move back to Serbia.
Two years later, Jelena had had enough and walked out to
live by herself. She initially lived in Europe but then returned
to Australia, appealing for people to forgive her as she had
never wanted to leave in the first place.
"I had so much to go through while my dad was on the tour,"
she said. "I was just so young and just had no real idea what
was going on.
"It was really difficult to take all that, what was going on
off the court, all the outbursts.
"I played with a huge pressure on my shoulders... I kind of
just cracked by the time I was 19."
Dokic tried to resurrect her tennis career but was unable to
find the motivation. She considered quitting in 2007 before
deciding to make one last attempt to get back in shape and form.
"Tennis is not the most important thing in the world but
it's something that I love," she said.
"It's really a miracle for me and it's really emotional to
win today. I don't know how I turned it around because this time
last year I was still trying. I gave myself another six months.
"I'm really enjoying my tennis. It doesn't really have
anything to do with ranking, money or anything. I just really
love the game. I think if I didn't like it so much, I don't
think I would have played again."
(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)