Jelena Dokic is opening up about her experience of being physically abused at 16 years old while playing tennis.
While on TODAY in Australia, the athlete spoke on a disturbing viral video of a young tennis player being beaten by a man during a match in Serbia.
“To talk about this is a really difficult subject,” she said, adding, “It was extremely triggering for me. It was just sickening to watch as someone who’s been through it. I know what that feels like. I know what that looks like.”
Sharing her own experience with abuse, she continued, “After an assault like this myself — I was actually kicked until I was unconscious a week before the US Open when I was 16. And it wasn’t the only time.”
The Australian tennis pro went on to say that “what happens behind closed doors is even worse” than what the public sees. “There’s no doubt about that.”
Discussing the footage, she said, “Unfortunately [it] had to get to this and be filmed for this long for us to be able to see what that actually looks like. But now we actually need to do something about this.
“This is what I was talking about all along when I came out with my story. That this happens and that I’m not the first or the last, but it is about how we deal with it and whether we’re doing enough.”
As the video recently circulated online, Dokic was one of many who condemned the man’s actions as she posted a screen grab of the clip on her Instagram page.
“Hitting, ear pulling, spitting in our faces, throwing us on the ground, punching and kicking us. Just another day for us and that includes this 14-year-old girl,” she wrote in part alongside the image.
While on TODAY, Dokic said that she “thought twice” about posting it.
Explaining her decision to share it, she said, “That is the reality. This is the ugly side of [the] sport and tennis, unfortunately. And it needs to be talked about. I don’t think it’s talked about enough and this is now where the question is, what is being done.”
“Why is this happening?” she asked. “The system is clearly broken. There’s something missing.”
She added that coaches and parents who have been abusive should not be allowed to participate in the sport.
In the meantime, Dokic said she plans to take action for change.
“I’m certainly going to try and drive this change and push for this. That’s what I’ve done all along.”