Dokic keen to represent Australia
April 20 2003
By Danny Weidler
Jelena Dokic wants to play for Australia at the Olympic Games in Athens next year. The troubled star has held talks with officials since she discovered she was not eligible to represent Yugoslavia.
Tennis Australia has told the world No. 11 she would be welcomed back with open arms, two years after she left her adopted country claiming she had been betrayed.
Dokic has also severed her ties with her outspoken father Damir. She is now based in Monaco, while her family is based in Belgrade. It was also reported some weeks ago that she had asked WTA Tour officials to deny her parents accreditation at tournaments.
Asked recently about her relationship with her parents, Dokic said: "Things are fine. They don't travel with me, so it's a little bit different from what it was. But things are fine."
Dokic's desire to compete for Australia is a considerable backflip given that she refused to play here during the past two summers, after claiming that the 2001 Australian Open draw was rigged against her. The Dokic family is on record as saying it has received a raw deal from officials and the media in this country.
It is unclear if she wants to call Australia home, but she definitely wants to play for Australia at the next Olympics. Dokic does not qualify to play for Yugoslavia at the Athens Olympics, but Tennis Australia is confident she can meet the requirements to compete for Australia. She will need to play at least two Fed Cup ties for Australia to qualify, and because of the schedule the events she will need to make a final decision by July.
Tennis director for Tennis Australia, Mike Daws, confirmed that talks had taken place with Dokic's representatives, but said that the matter was not finalised.
"This is a very delicate process," Daws said. "We don't want to say too much at this stage, but I will say that Jelena would be very welcome to come and compete for us. There are no hard feelings at all.
"This is a personal issue for her to decide upon and I really think that she has to advise us. She is still an Australian citizen so that is not an issue at all. The issue is that Jelena has to be happy, but I can say that we would welcome her back with open arms. We'd love her here."
Dokic would not have a problem fitting into a Fed Cup team. Speaking from Budapest yesterday, Alicia Molik said that Australia's players did not have a problem with Dokic
"She keeps to herself," she said. "No one knows too much about her. She does her own thing, but no one has a personal problem with her."
While Damir remains listed in the women's tour handbook as Jelena's coach, the 20-year-old has essentially gone her own way on the court. Damir is known to be particularly upset by his daughter's relationship with the Brazilian car racing driver Enrique Bernoldi.
Last August, Damir threatened to "write Jelena off as a Belgrade citizen - I want her to become a UK citizen". However, Jelena told the Observer this month: "I never said anything about that, so I don't know where you got it from. Neither was I quoted as saying anything about it, which I didn't, so you might have to ask whoever you heard it from."