Jelena Dokic has lifted the lid on an eating disorder she suffered from a young age and the breakdown of her long-term relationship, in a heartbreaking new revelation about her mental health battle. The former Aussie tennis star - who was ranked as high as World No.4 during her playing days - has spoken openly about her troubled past and particularly the abuse she suffered at the hands of her father, Damir.
The 40-year-old revealed that she almost took her own life in 2022 and called out online trolls after being targeted by body-shamers at this year's Australian Open. The much-loved tennis commentator has been widely praised for having the courage to talk about her traumatic past and well-documented battles with mental health and depression that she spoke about in detail in a 2017 book titled, 'Unbreakable'.
Following the resounding success of that autobiography, Dokic has a new book titled: 'Fearless: Finding The Power To Thrive'. In an interview with Stellar published on the weekend, the 40-year-old admits that writing the book helped her better understand and speak about eating disorders she suffered as far back as her refugee days in Serbia as a child.
“I actually haven’t talked about my eating disorder [before] because, for so long, I didn’t understand it," she told Stellar. "But now I know that more than 90 per cent of people that do have eating disorders, it comes from trauma."
For Dokic, that trauma came from years of abuse at the hands of her father - both physically and mentally - with the tennis star often left with bruises all over her body during her professional playing days. The 40-year-old said her father was particularly abusive at the start of her career and would often “weaponise food” in an attempt to maintain his control over her.
Dokic admitted that her eating disorder was a "complex" issue that she's still "working really hard on" but says seeking professional help ultimately "saved my life". She admitted the new book helped give her a fresh perspective on her battles. Dokic also revealed that the split from her long-term partner Tin Bikic in 2021 triggered an alarming spiral that included depression, binge-eating and suicidal thoughts.
“I didn’t know how hard [the break-up] would hit me,” Dokic confessed. “I’m quite a sensitive person and when I love someone, I really do it, you know, a million miles an hour with my full heart. Ultimately it was very hurtful that it ended.
“I also almost felt like a bit of a failure, as well... I absolutely believe in love and I’d love to go find it again one day. I’m not there yet, but there will come a moment. We know by now that I believe there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I believe in the best. And I believe in that happy ending. I think ultimately my story is that.”
Jelena Dokic hoping to address stigma around mental health
The 40-year-old says part of the reason she's so willing to share the trauma of her past is to break the stigma that mental health problems are a sign of weakness. “Some of the strongest people I know have gone through literally hell and back and dealt with depression and anxiety or eating disorders,” she said.
Dokic says "believing and having confidence" in herself helped get her through many of her life's ordeals. Those included twice living as a refugee, being bullied and abused, and undergoing brutal mental health battles that almost led to the 40-year-old taking her own life.
Dokic was widely praised for calling out the "evil" and "vile" trolls who had been commenting on her weight at this year's Australian Open. She received a number of sickening messages after a playful post-match interview with Serbian star Novak Djokovic went viral around the world.
The 40-year-old said she decided to call it out because of the societal shift she had witnessed around issues such as mental health and body positivity. “Everyone was like, ‘OK, enough is enough’... [People] were supporting me – and men, as well, which I’m really grateful for,” she added.
Dokic declared the online trolls typically "thrive in silence" but after calling them out so openly and honestly, the disgusting comments from her detractors "have stopped".
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