Jelena Dokic Tour Results: Interviews and articles

Jelena Dokic: "Coming home"
by Dominic Bliss

"Australian Tennis Magazine" - Volume No.29, Issue No.1
3rd January, 2004 (on sale: 17th December, 2003)

Jelena Dokic: "Coming home" 

She's split from her parents and her racing car driving boyfriend. 
Now Jelena Dokic is steering and finally headed to Australia. 

By Dominic Bliss 

[Photo] "I think Australians give people a fair go ... people will respect the fact that 
         she has stepped up to the plate," predicts Australian Open chief executive Paul 

  It seems Jelena Dokic's on-off love affair with Australia is back on again. Despite 
having abandoned her adopted country last year and having missed the last two Australian 
Opens, she has confirmed that she will definitely be competing at Melbourne Park in January 
  The 20-year-old is fully aware that the reaction from the Australian tennis world won't 
be 100 per cent positive this time round, but she's well prepared for that. She says she's 
always enjoyed competing in Australia, and that it was just the Australian media that used 
to get her down. 
  There are of course vital ranking points at stake, too. By choosing to miss the 
Australian tournaments in 2002 and 2003, Jelena was forced to start both seasons at a major 
disadvantage compared to her peers. 
  This year, she has no points to defend on Aussie soil, so any matches she wins will give 
her WTA ranking (currently World No.15) a much needed boost. 
  On April 12th Jelena left behind her teenage years and embarked on her twenties. This 
coincided with a new independence in her life. She used to travel on the WTA Tour with her 
parents, but earlier this year she finally lost all patience with her troublesome father 
Damir, and nowadays the young woman faces the rigours of the international circuit without 
parental support. 

  "I don't see my parents any more" 

  "I don't see my parents any more," she said during the summer. "I speak to them on the 
phone - whenever I feel like calling or whenever they call me." 
  Until late summer 2003, Dokic lived in Monaco with her then Fiance, the professional 
racing driver Enrique Bernoldi. After a whirlwind romance, the Brazilian OrangeArrows 
driver also accompanied her on the tour for several months. Jelena even wore a very 
conspicuous and many-stoned diamond engagement ring that Bernoldi had given her. 
  But at the end of the northern summer the couple parted company. Jelena is now looking to 
buy a property by the coast in her native Croatia. 
  No one was more delighted at this split than father Damir. Many reports suggested that it 
was Jelena's relationship with Enrique that had caused the rift between father and daughter 
to widen even further. 
  In May, just before the French Open, Australian newspapers were quoting Jelena's father 
stating quite categorically that he had severed all ties with his daughter. "I never want 
to see her again," he told the Sydney Morning Herald. "She left us. We don't need her." 

[Photo] The former Sydneysider still rates her most memorable tennis experience as the 2000 
        Sydney Olympics. 

  Damir sounded bitter about Jelena's decision to go it alone. "We brought her back here 
(to Serbia) and did everything for her until she was 19. Then she chose that idiot," he 
added, referring to Bernoldi. 
  "Everybody says he's a Formula One driver, but he is a no one... nothing. (Jelena) 
supports him." 
  Damir, who has famously been ejected from Wimbledon, the US Open and the DFS Classic 
in Birmingham (UK) for unruly behaviour, and banned for six months from attending WTA 
tournaments, has a fondness for fiery and outrageous comments. But this latest outburst 
suggests this Christmas in the Dokic household will be more subdued than ever. Jelena, 
however, is recalcitrant. 
  "I don't know if they want me to be (engaged) at 20," she said just after Bernoldi 
had proposed to her. "I haven't spoken to them about it. It's not something I'm concerned 
about. It's not a huge deal. I don't mind what they think. I have my own opinion and the 
way that I want things done. I make my own decisions." 

[Photo] Hoping to return to her career-best ranking of World No.4, Dokic will gain valuable 
        points in Australia.  

  This new-found forcefulness is just what Jelena needs. For her whole life, including the 
last five years as a professional player, she has been under the strict direction of her 
father. She made the shots, but he called them. Now, at last, she's doing both. 

  "We did everything for her ... then she chose that idiot." Damir Dokic 

  This could be exactly what takes her tennis career to the next level. Under the guidance 
of Damir she won five WTA titles, reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon and the quarters at 
Roland Garros and cracked the world top 10. Having broken away from Dad's domineering 
influence, she may now have the freedom she needs to go a step further. 

[Photo] Croat Barna Bikic now fills the coaching role once occupied by dad Damir. 

  "It's definitely a different stage in my life," she asserts. "I don't travel with my 
parents any more. I think a little bit differently. I'm a little bit older. I've travelled 
for a few years now so that makes you a bit more mature. I'm probably more mature than 
other 20-year-olds because I've had such a different life." 

[Photo] Having broken ties with both her father (centre) and boyfriend, Jelena's off-court 
        distractions have been significantly reduced. 

  And boy, that life has been different. Born in 1983 into what was to become the political 
mess of the former Yugoslavia, Jelena first resided with her family in Croatia. Then they 
moved from Croatia to Serbia and next, in 1994, from Serbia to Australia. 
  All was not well, however, for the Dokic family Down Under. Believed he was hounded by 
the press and haunted by all sort of anti-Serbian persecution complexes, Damir brought 
his family back to Europe last year. 
  This was when Jelena first started to show signs of independence. She moved to the States 
for a while to concentrate on her training while her mother, father and brother Savo 
returned to Serbia. Now she's based in Monaco. 
  (Oh, and those stories about possibly playing in the Olympics for Australia or even 
moving to Great Britain and playing Fed Cup for the Pommies... according to the 
international Tennis Federation, she's not eligible to do the former, and according to 
Jelena, she never had any intention of doing the latter.) 
  This constant upheaval and world wandering is something that all professional tennis 
players have to deal with. But having actually lived in so many different countries, 
Jelena must feel more unsettled and more rootless than most of her colleagues. 
  "You can have a place to go back to while you're on the tour. You can even have two or 
three. But I don't think you can ever say that you're really home when you're travelling 
so much," she explains. "I'm in a different place every week. I'm pretty much a citizen 
of the world." 
  Jelena says she lives in western Europe now because it's the most convenient place to 
train and travel from. "Australia was too far away. I think eventually I would have had 
to move anyway. You have no time to go back there (in between tournaments). Nearly all 
the Australian players have moved to America because it's much easier to travel." 

  "I'm pretty much a citizen of the world." 

  She accepts that the continual migration back and forth across the globe is the nature 
of international tennis. "It's something that you choose to do," she says. "If you're 
going to do tennis then you're going to have to travel from January to November. You have 
no other option. If you want to stay at home then you do another job. This is what the 
sport is. 
  "Once you retire from tennis, that's when you decide where you want to live, what you 
want to do and how much you want to travel." 
  Despite the family rift and the recent split with her fiance, Jelena is by no means 
alone. For the first part of this year she worked with a new coach, Heinz Gunthardt, the 
Swiss former Wimbledon doubles champion who coached Steffi Graf for most of her reign at 
the top. Their partnership was fairly short-lived, however, (apparently they didn't 
communicate well together) and now Jelena is with the Croatian coach Borna Bikic. 
  "I was negative until I started working with Borna," Jelena said. "In four months he 
changed everything in my game and changed my discipline completely. 
  "Bikic is a terrorist and a perfectionist. I am his soldier and he is my general. He 
controls all my life except my finances." 
  Bikic and his young protegee are currently preparing in earnest for January's Aussie 
Open. Jelena has competed there three times before - 1999, 2000 and 2001. In her last two 
attempts, while her father was waging his private war against the Australian media and 
tennis authorities, she lost both times in the first round. But she could be forgiven for 
being distracted from her tennis. 
  This time she arrives "home" unencumbered. A woman who has left most of her baggage 

[Photo] Whether Jelena will be welcomed by her former playing partners remains to be seen 
        ... although a doubles alliance with Rennae Stubbs during 2003 is a positive sign. 

"match point" - Editorial by Rosanne Michie 

"No Hard Feelings Jelena" 

Australian Tennis Magazine has had an uneasy relationship with Jelena Dokic's family ever 
since now-estranged Dad Damir overreacted to a suggestion by my predecessor Alan Trengove 
that Damir would benefit from psychological counselling. However, there's no hard feeling 
with respect to Jelena and I am thrilled that she has made the decision to finally return 
to her adopted country. I hope Aussie crowds, famed for their fairness, agree. 

The article quoted from the Australian Tennis Magazine. -