Jelena Dokic speaks with students on her extraordinary journey to success

On Wed 12 May, the Living at La Trobe student leadership team held their first LIT (Leadership In Training) evening for Semester 1 – in collaboration with the Residential Education Coordinator Sam Fualau.

Students were excited to have former World Number 4, popular tennis commentator, and best-selling author (for her autobiography Unbreakable), Jelena Dokic attend the event.

Jelena presented on the struggles of being a refugee, dealing with poverty, racism, bullying, discrimination, and the physical and emotional abuse she suffered for over 20 years at the hands of her father.

Student Leader  – Jessica Miles | Menzies College

‘On Wednesday May 12th, the Residential Assistants had the opportunity to listen to Jelena Dokic’s extraordinary pathway to success.  Seeking refuge in Australia, Jelena Dokic’s tennis triumphs were not without struggle, struggling to learn a new language and communicate with her peers whilst suffering physical, mental and emotional abuse at the hands of her father. Jelena discussed that growing up all she wanted was recognition and support from her parents but after beating world number one Martina Hingis when she was just 16, Dokic knew that the praise she craved would never come. Seeing her father storm out of the grandstand is a vision she will always have etched in her mind. The tennis star recalled that no matter if she won or lost she would still be beaten or verbally abused by her father.

A moment that stuck with us was when Dokic described a time after her loss to Lindsey Davenport at Wimbledon in 2000 where her father called her to say not to return to the hotel although she was only 17 and without any money in her possession. The two-time refugee said she was just happy to not receive a beating that night. Two years later, despite being a full-time professional tennis player, Dokic decided it was time for her to run away from home and reclaim her power as an individual. During this time, her father tracked her down and hurled abuse down the phone, threatening his daughter and her team but it was within this experience that Jelena found strength.

We as students were extremely touched by Jelena’s resilience, personal power and strength that she was able to share with us when reliving her story. Her life lessons have sparked significant conversations within the residential community as to how overcoming hardships and receiving support from others can allow us to flourish as individuals no matter what we’re going through.’