Jelena Dokic has gone public with the sporting world's worst-kept secret - that her crazy nutjob father used to physically abuse her. I feel for this girl, always have.
I am reminded of the time I unwittingly made the front page of the Herald-Sun. It was Jelena's first match in Australia representing Serbia. The Herald-Sun (and other tabloid outlets) had made a big deal of it in the lead up, suggesting that people would jeer and boo because of her seemingly unpatriotic decision to represent the country of her birth rather than the country that raised her. But, as always, the tabloids undersetimate the average intelligence of the common person. We could all see that it was her crazy father's decision, not hers. She was 17 or 18 at the time, and clearly under the thumb of a despot.
So when she came out to face Lindsay Davenport, nobody really jeered. Oh, there was a clown or two up the back, drunk, trying to join a mob that failed to materialise in the first place, but from my seat, one row from the front, all I heard was a mix of quiet and generous applause for Jelena. I cheered louldy for her. We knew the poor girl was suffering under her father, and our cheers were as much in sympathy as they were celebratory.
But the tabloids ignored the real event. Front page of the Herald-Sun the next day came an article saying the crowd had 'mixed feelings', and ran a shot of some people cheering, some not. There, right smack bang in the middle of a close up of a randomly picked section of the crowd, was me. I was eating sushi, and my mouth looked like it was in a frown. They clearly took the photo at some other time, because when she came out on to centre court, I was cheering for her.
My Mum rang: "Did you boo that poor girl?"
Me: "No Mum, Jesus. I was eating sushi. I cheered."
My Mum: "And who's that girl you're with? She looks pretty."
Seconds later my sister rang from Sydney.
"Did you boo Dokic?"
"Did Mum ring you?"
"No, you're front page of the Sydney paper."
"For fuck's sake."
"And who's the curly-haired chick?"
The Sydney one was worse, because the picture was much bigger and the headline was, 'Fans Boo Dokic'.
The calls and emails kept coming, and worst of all, Damir Dokic, the anti-christ himself, was interviewed and he got a hold of the paper and pointed at me saying I was a disgrace for jeering his daughter... but I didn't! I would've jeered him because he was a cunt, but not hs talented and obviously abused daughter.
But anyway, years later, of course, the tabloids are now throwing so much support behind her that you can smell their guilt in it.
I hope that none of the resident TSFKA-ers with kids even remotely act like Domir Dokic (I'm sure you don't). I remember as a kid doing aths and footy - there were some parents of other kids that were insane about their child's sporting performances, and as even as young as 10 years old, I knew that their parents were acting stupid. I'm not a parent, but I'd like to think that if I was, I'd give support to my kids' sports, but never ever be one of those parents on the sidelines screaming abuse. My Dad was perfect... he was the athletic club's treasurer and volunteer, so he was involved as such, but never once did he become angry or even pressure me to perform better. He helped me to perform better, but never insisted that I do.
Domir Dokic is of course the extreme opposite of this. He is a failure at life, a failure as a father, a failure as a real man, and for that, he punished his extremely gifted daughter. I have nothing but sympathy and support for Jelena.
I just hope they don't make a schmaltzy film about it. But they will.