Former Australian tennis star Jelena Dokic has hit back at online trolls she says have bombarded her with negative comments about her body at the Australian Open.
In an Instagram post on Monday, Dokic, who is working as a commentator for CNN affiliate 9 at the event, said the “‘body shaming’ and ‘fat shaming’” she had received in the past 24 hours was “disgusting.”
“The most common comment being ‘what happened to her, she is so big’?” Dokic wrote. “I will tell you what happened, I am finding a way and surviving and fighting. And it really doesn’t matter what I am doing and what happened because size shouldn’t matter.”
Dokic retired in 2014, after several career highs including reaching the 1999 Wimbledon quarterfinals, aged just 16. A year later, she made the last four at Wimbledon.
In 2000, she represented Australia at the Sydney Olympics, and also reached the Wimbledon semifinals. Her world ranking peaked at No.4 after reaching the 2002 French Open quarterfinals.
But Dokic’s on-court success came at a tremendous cost, as she revealed in her autobiography, “Unbreakable,” first published in 2018.
In the book, Dokic details the physical, verbal, and mental abuse she says she suffered at the hands of her father and former coach, Damar Dokic.
Dokic cut ties with her father in 2002, leaving “in the middle of the night” with just her racquet bag and a suitcase, she said.
When the book was released, Dokic’s father did not respond to CNN’s request for comment. He told Serbian daily Blic in 2009 that “there is no child that was not beaten by parents, same with Jelena.”
In recent posts on Instagram, the former tennis player says she won’t be silenced by bullies.
“I am here, fighting for all those out there being abused, fat shamed,” she said. “I can’t change the world but I am going to continue speaking up, calling this behaviour out, using my platform for something good and to support other people out there and to give others a voice and try to make others feel less alone and scared.”
Dokic has spoken in the past about her struggles with her mental health. Last June, in a video posted to Instagram, she revealed she had come close to taking her own life and said getting professional help had saved her.
How to get help: In the US, call the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988. The International Association for Suicide Prevention and Befrienders Worldwide also provide contact information for crisis centers around the world.