Former tennis superstar Jelena Dokic was one of the bright stars of Australian women’s tennis through the early part of the new millennium.
But the retired 35-year-old has revealed some of her darkest struggles in an interview with the Sunday Herald Sun.
She burst onto the scene as a qualifier in the 1999 Wimbledon tournament, demolishing then number one Martina Hingis 6-2 6-0 in the first round and cementing her place in tennis folklore.
After a switch of allegiances from Australia to Yugoslavia in 2001, Dokic pushed to a career high of fourth in the world in 2002.
By 2005, she returned to Australia but had a tough time regaining form, dipping in an out of the top 100 before form and injury troubles ended her career in 2014, where she has become a tennis coach and public speaker.
Problems with her father Damir Dokic overshadowed her career and she outlined the abuse in her 2017 book Unbreakable.
But it was post-retirement she has had arguably her biggest struggle.
She said retirement left her feeling “lost” and saw her weight blow out to 120kg on the back of emotional eating and a lack of structure when she left tennis.
“I was thrown into retirement not knowing what direction I wanted to go in,” Dokic said.
“I wasn’t prepared — that’s where my weight gain started.
“When you’re a professional athlete, you’re in this bubble that’s not reality — everything is done for you … training, food, travel, management, so going back into real life was very different.”
Dokic said the release of the book was a cathartic experience and allowed her to let go many of the things she felt was holding her back.
She admitted the abuse at the hands of her father, battles with depression, glandular fever and a thyroid condition all contributed to her comfort eating.
It has also been a catalyst to get on top of her weight and has seen her join Jenny Craig as a weight loss ambassador.
“The book released a lot of emotions I was holding in for a very long time,” Dokic said.
“I’m happy with what I have, but (my weight) is the missing piece in the puzzle.”
Dokic’s aim is to go from her weight on December 1 of 99kg to 66kg in six months.
Having signed on as a commentator for Channel 9’s Australian summer of tennis coverage, she admits life is good.
Over the past 15 years, she had travelled between Australia and Serbia to see her boyfriend Tin Bikic but the pair settled in Melbourne over the last two years.
She said he had been a great support over the years.
“We’ve been through the good, bad and horrible,” she said.
“He (Tin) was a key part in getting me back from the point of wanting to commit suicide.
“We have quite a few plans in the next few years — marriage is on the list and we’re definitely looking forward to having children sooner or later. Raising children, giving them that support and being there for them, and doing it differently to what happened in my family, is very important to me.”