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by Gerhard Grundhammer and Glyn James

Name: Jelena Dokic
Date of birth: 12 / April / 1983
Nationality: Yugoslavian
Place of birth: Osijek, Croatia
Residence: Belgrade, Yugoslavia; Monte Carlo
Singles -  Rome, Moscow, Tokyo (Toyota Princess Cup), Birmingham, Sarasota.
Doubles - Sarasota, L.A., Linz 2001 + 2002.
Mixed - Hopman Cup 1999
End of season rankings:
1998 - 341
1999 -  43
2000 -  26
2001 -  08
2002 -  09

Highest ranking:
Singles - #4 (Aug. 19 - Sept. 22, 2002)
Doubles - #10(Feb. 4 - March 31, 2002; April 8 - May 5, 2002)


YOU could forgive Jelena Dokic for not being an average person. She is only 19, and yet in her short career she has escaped the war in Yugoslavia, running from her Croatian home at the age of 6, and from her Serbian home at the age of 11. She adopted Australian nationality and set up home in Sydney with her family only to relinquish her new citizenship in high dudgeon to revert to her Yugoslavian passport. After moving to the United States of America and back to Belgrade she now lives at Monaco. All this, and we have not even mentioned her father, Damir.

When it comes to tennis parents from hell, Dokic could tell a tale or Gettwo. Following the long tradition of aggressive, money-grabbing or just plain barking fathers on the WTA Tour, Damir takes his place proudly with the best.

Fond of a drink or two, he managed to get himself thrown out of the Edgbaston Priory Club in Birmingham, Wimbledon and the US Open. He made the tea-time news after running away with a television microphone and berating a camera crew in Melbourne following Jelena's early departure from the Australian Open in 2000. Damir's English is limited at best, so when in trouble, his daughter could be seen at his side, translating his arguments, offering excuses and trying to calm down the situation.

Then she would go back to work and win her next match, and would calmly discuss forehands and backhands to a fascinated press corps in the interview room afterwards. Jelena has every right to be different!

In the middle of all this media mayhem, Jelena's credentials as a tennis player tend to be overlooked. She was the top-ranked junior in the world at the age of 15 and then, a year later, she announced herself to the public by beating world no 1 Martina Hingis at Wimbledon in the opening round. Jelena had come through the qualifying competition, and was ranked 129 at that time. By the end of her run - she was stopped at the quarterfinals - she had climbed to 37, and she never looked back.

It seemed that Damir's outrageous behaviour upstaged every one of Jelena's achievements, and yet on she pushed. Every move up the rankings was used as a platform for him, finally topped at the US-Open 2002, as he tried to use the popularity of his daughter to start his political career at some right wing party in Serbia.

Jelena's final breakthrough took place at Rome in 2001. There she won her first title at one of the big-money, top-tier events, and, having developed the winning habit, she has been doing it on a regualar basis ever since. After that, she won the Toyota Princess Cup at Japan, the Kremlin Cup at Moscow, the Sarasota Open at Florida and after she had won Birmingham she finally won a tournament on every possible surface!

On october, 8, 2001 she entered the Top 10 for the first time in her career, and settled down there, and if she announces the Top 10 as her home, it's meant more literally than with any other player!

Her game defies the basic laws of physics. She is quite tall at 1.75 meters, but pencil thin, and yet she can generate enough power on her ground strokes to deal with the big-hitting Amazons of the game. She has the ability to hit winners from every possible spot on court, and she's a fighter. Once she gets her teeth into a match, nothing will persuade her to let go. It is a legacy of all that she has been through, and survived.

Jelena seems like a down-trodden soul, but she begs to differ. She has gradually tought herself to try to enjoy life away from the courts, and she likes the same pastimes as any 19-year-old. She loves to shop, she loves movies, music and most of all she loves her boyfriend: Brazilian Formular 1 star Enrique Bernoldi.

"There are hard times, there are good times, you have to deal with that. I like the life that I have, but it`s certainly not an easy life, even if I wouldn't change it for anything!" - Jelena Dokic

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