Dokic opens her heart to reveal battle with depression

January 20th, 2009 - 12:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Melbourne, Jan 20 (DPA) Jelena Dokic is using the appearance at only her second Australian Open in the past seven years as emotional body armour against a personal life which at one time was off the rails.The 25-year-old Belgrade-born Australian, who has brought her ranking back to 187, won a match at the venue for the first time since 1999.

But in a tear-stained interview, she revealed that the estrangement from her family has taken a huge emotional toll.

She said that after turning away from tennis following a rise as a teenager to fourth in the world, she suffered depression during 2007 and considered giving up the game after cutting off contact with her controlling father Damir Dokic.

“It was a tough time in my life. I had a lot to go through, a lot of family issues. I went through hell and back,” she said, trying not to break down. “I was really struggling with everything: with my weight, with my mental state, with everything.”

Dokic, based in Monte Carlo, credited her long-time boyfriend Tin with keeping her sane and helping her to tennis and personal recovery.

With contact with father cut off for years and the rest of her Serbia-based family barely speaking to her, the toll has been huge.

“I’m trying to mend the relationship with my brother and my mum. But my boyfriend was there. We’ve been together for six years. He was there with me,” she said.

“The biggest thing I regret is my brother (Savo), who is 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.”

Damir Dokic was banned from WTA for bad behaviour including drunkenness and flinging a fish in a US Open cafeteria during his daughter’s early career, becoming a template for the evil tennis parent.

With her life and her game on the mend, Dokic can start to see a bright future for the first time in years.

“I’m enjoying my tennis. It doesn’t really have anything to do with ranking, money or anything. I just really love the game. I’ve dealt with so much off the court, that this is a joke to me now.”

Dokic was fighting back tears after her first-round victory. “It’s really a miracle for me. It’s really emotional to win. I don’t think a lot of people know what it means to me.”

She showed her grit last month as she won a wild card place in the Melbourne field through victory in a special playoff tournament.

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