In her new autobiography Unbreakable, Jelena Dokic has detailed moments of kindness from fellow players during the turmoil that surrounded much of her playing career.
WTA Staff
November 14, 2017

Jelena Dokic has written about key moments in her career where kindness and support from fellow players helped to keep her going despite serious off-the-court issues.

In her new autobiography Unbreakable, released this week, the Australian recalls that former World No.1 Lindsay Davenport's compassion during the 2001 Australian Open had been invaluable. Having drawn the American in the first round, Dokic was greeted by boos when she walked on court - after being forced to change her nationality from Australian to Yugoslavian by her father Damir.

Lindsay Davenport shakes hands with Jelena Dokic after beating her in the first round of the 2001 Australian Open (Getty)
Lindsay Davenport shakes hands with Jelena Dokic after beating her 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the first round of the 2001 Australian Open (Getty)
'Afterwards, in the locker room, I crumble. Huge sobs roll through me. Lindsay comes and finds me. She hugs me.'
Jelena Dokic
Martina Hingis (Getty)
Martina Hingis during her 6-2, 6-0 loss to Jelena Dokic in the first round of Wimbledon 1999

"Afterwards, in the locker room, I crumble," Dokic writes. "Huge sobs roll through me. Lindsay comes and finds me. She hugs me. I can’t talk, I feel so rotten... I am incredibly sad and can hardly get any words out to say so, but I very much appreciate her coming over and seeing me.

"I want to thank her for comforting me. I want to thank her for graciously handling the situation on court – I could see out there she felt uncomfortable because of the hostile environment. I could see she felt sad for me. But I can’t get the words ‘thank you’ out of my mouth because I’m sobbing. I never get the chance to tell her, but I am forever grateful for her compassion. In the press conference she remarks that this is the worst thing she has ever been a part of."

Another former World No.1 who showed Dokic kindness was Martina Hingis, who in 1999 invited the teenage Australian to her home in Zurich for a pre-clay training block. Of the gesture, Dokic wrote: "I might struggle to find a friend in the Australian tennis community but the best player in the world doesn’t mind my company."

A few months later, the knowledge Dokic had gleaned of Hingis's game was a key factor in one of her most famous wins - the stunning 6-2, 6-0 first-round upset of the then World No.1 in the first round of Wimbledon.

Monica Seles at Roland Garros 1999 (Getty)
Monica Seles at Roland Garros 1999 (Getty)

Just a month prior to that breakthrough victory, though, Dokic had felt at her lowest ebb - in terms of her game as well as her personal life. A Roland Garros debut had ended in a 6-7(5), 6-3, 11-9 first-round defeat by local hope Emmanuelle Curutchet and the 16-year-old was "heartbroken by the loss". In tears in the locker room, Dokic recalls telling her mother, "I don't want to play tennis any more" - and being overheard by another former World No.1, Monica Seles.

"I thought we were alone in the locker room and no one could hear me," wrote Dokic. "But there is movement off to the side. Someone must have been getting a massage in one of the cubicles. The player who emerges is Monica Seles. My childhood idol is standing before me as the tears still stream down my face. I am shocked to see her.

"‘It will get better,’ she says softly. ‘You feel like you want to stop now but it will get better. You won’t feel like this tomorrow. You are only 16 and you are already so good.’

"‘Thank you,’ I say, grateful for her words."