THE tennis player Jelena Dokic says that her father, Damir, physically abused her during their tumultuous relationship.
Dokic, who is estranged from her father, has told how she fled from her family in 2002 to escape the violence.
After more than 10 years of speculation in tennis circles, Dokic said in an exclusive interview with the Fairfax magazine Sport&Style: "I've been through a lot worse than anybody on the tour. I can say that with confidence.
"When you go through stuff like that, playing a tennis match is a pretty easy thing to do. … When I win today it's so much more satisfying.
After a rocky relationship with Australian tennis fans, Dokic won back the nation with her feisty performance in the Australian Open this year when she reached the quarter-finals after having to rely on a wildcard for entry.
Dokic, 26, went through years of mental turmoil after packing her bags and fleeing what she called "the situation".
"There was a period where there was nothing that could make me happy … I wanted somebody's else's life."
Dokic has the support of another tennis player, Mary Pierce, who suffered at the hands of her father, Jim. However, while Pierce has the support of her mother, Dokic was alone.
It was difficult to advise someone who was being abused, she said.
"Everyone has a different situation, different problem. No one really knows what I dealt with. I don't know what others deal with."
She credited her boyfriend Tin Bikic for helping her recover. Asked about troubling memories, she said sometimes she thought, "Why me?" But she had only to look around to see other people who were far worse off, she said.
"Whatever has happened, good or bad, will always stay there. It makes you what you are. But I think it's a little bit selfish [to feel sorry for yourself] … you see a person in a wheelchair and you can't help feel, 'Well I'm pretty lucky to be here … we are healthy, we still have our lives ahead of us … Then you feel lucky."
"I know people who were in the next-door hotel room after she'd lost matches and he used to beat the s--- out of her,'' tennis legend John Newcombe said.
"When she was a junior, he was belting her in a car park down in Victoria and a court case came up about that. But she wouldn't testify, so it was dropped. Why would you testify? You've got to go home and he's going to belt you again.''