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tennisIlove09
Apr 22nd, 2003, 07:31 AM
Dokic Reportedly Considering Representing Australia Again

By Richard Pagliaro
04/21/2003

Jelena Dokic may be making a homecoming to her adopted home. The 10th-ranked Dokic — who holds Australian citizenship, but has largely been a citizen of the world after her moving out of her adopted country more than two years ago — is reportedly considering resolving her ongoing dispute with Tennis Australia officials and representing Australia at the 2004 Athens Summer Olympic Games.


Informed that she would be ineligible to represent Serbia-Montenegro in the upcoming Olympics, Dokic has set her sights on an Australian return. Tennis Australia tennis director Mike Daws told the Sun-Herald newspaper preliminary talks with Dokic are ongoing, but nothing has been finalized yet.

"This is a very delicate process," Daws told the Sun-Herald. "Jelena is still an Australian citizen so that's not an issue — the issue is that Jelena has to be happy."

The 20-year-old Dokic has declined to play the Australian Open for the past two years and has said in the past she has no plans to return to Australia. But in recent months, Dokic has taken steps to distance herself from the influence of her father, the controversial Damir Dokic. Last fall, Dokic banned her parents from the player area at the the Generali Ladies Linz tournament in Linz, Austria.

In another move to assert authority over her own career and diminish the influence of her domineering dad, Dokic hired Heinz Gunthardt as her new coach in December. The fact that she's considering the prospect of playing for Australia is yet another sign Dokic has taken complete control of her career.

Tennis Australia officials, who may well regard Dokic as the victim of her father's rash decisions, have always said they would welcome Dokic back should she decide to return.

"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," Daws said. "There are no hard feelings at all. This is a personal issue for her to decide upon. She is still an Australian citizen so that is not an issue at all. The issue is that Jelena has to be happy."

In order to attain Australian eligibility for Athens, Dokic would be required to represent Australia in at least two Fed Cup ties before August of 2004. With Australia's lineup for its upcoming first-round Fed Cup tie already set, Dokic would need to reach a decision by July — before the next possible Fed Cup tie.

A resident of three different countries during the past three years, Dokic often finds herself feeling most at home on the tennis court these days. Dokic turned her back on the nation after her father accused Australian Open officials of fixing the draw against his daughter.

Born in Belgrade, Jelena Dokic and her family emigrated from Serbia to Sydney, Australia when she was 11 years old. Dokic played for Australia in the Fed Cup and in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, but her relationship with Tennis Australia officials soured as her father accused officials of "rigging" the Australian Open draw against his daughter.

The unseeded Dokic drew defending champion Lindsay Davenport in the opening-round of the Australian Open in January of 2001. Her father was furious over the draws his daughter received in both 2000 and 2001 and charged the draw was "fixed."

"I think the draw is fixed just for her," Damir Dokic said at the time. "If it is not, the country should protect its own player. Jelena was crying for the first time ever last night. I have never seen her cry about tennis in her life and she was saying that she could not believe that she got that kind of draw in Australia. She feels betrayed. She feels that no one here likes her and when you feel like that it means you have no spaces here where you can just go."

Dokic declined to play the Australian Open since and announced during the U.S. Open last September she has no plans to play the Australian Open in the foreseeable future.

"I don't think I will," Dokic said, when asked if she would play the Australian Open. "It's not a priority, but I don't think I will be going back there. I don't know what's going to happen in five years, but not right now, no."

Dokic did not play in the Australian Open in January and made it clear that Melbourne is not a stop on her schedule in the near future.

"It is a Grand Slam, but I can do without that one," Dokic said. "After everything that happened there, I don't think it's worth going back and playing the Australian Open."

Though he was the target of Damir Dokic's attacks when he moved his family out of Australia, Tennis Australia Chief Geoff Pollard said he has no problems with Jelena and would welcome her back to Australia should she decide to return.

"The exact words she used to me were her dad's made a decision and she went along with it," Pollard said. "I'm not a person that gets involved in family affairs. She made the decision to play on her own now and that's her prerogative. Whether she will make a decision to move to America — which is where she spends a lot of her time — or come back to Australia is up to her. As far as I know she still has an Australian passport and if she wanted to come back tomorrow she'd be welcomed."