Jelena Dokic's heartbreaking response to question about online bullying

The Aussie tennis champion was a special guest on ABC program Q&A on Monday night.

Jelena Dokic, pictured here speaking out about her experiences with online abuse.
Jelena Dokic spoke out about her experiences with online abuse on Q&A. Image: ABC/Getty

WARNING: The following article contains confronting content.

Jelena Dokic has lifted the lid on the impacts of online bullying in a powerful segment on Q&A. The Aussie tennis hero was a special guest on the ABC program on Monday night, opening up about how bullying and social media trolling has affected her.

Dokic has become a powerful voice in the battle against online bullying in recent years, calling out online trolls a number of times. During the Australian Open in January she exposed how a troll in Serbia sent her a message asking when she was going to kill herself, before later calling out some horrific body-shaming.

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On Monday night she became emotional while discussing the situation. “I’m not out here hurting anyone,” she said.

“I am the opposite, I am trying to do something good with my platform and create a safe space and a community as well. You do get a bit of this hate and you get trolling and I’ve had it on everything, from a mental health perspective to body-shaming to abuse as well.

“I consider myself to be pretty strong and I’ve got pretty thick skin, but to actually read some of those things like, ‘Are you going to try and kill yourself again?’ - which is what happened this year - with a laughing emoji...I’m not the only one who gets it, and it’s been something that I’ve been so passionate about."

Jelena Dokic, pictured here during the 2023 Australian Open.
Jelena Dokic looks on during the 2023 Australian Open. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Dokic, who made it as high as World No.4 in 2002, called for more to be done to stamp out online bullying. She added: “Actually people’s lives are at stake.

“You have no idea how many people I had just walking through the grounds of the Australian Open going to my next match to commentate and do my work come to me and say, ‘Thank you so much for tackling this because my brother took his life 24 hours ago and we were at his funeral’. Then you read these comments and it was breaking my heart to actually hear this but I actually know that that’s how it works because there are so many people suffering.”

Dokic won widespread praise on social media for her powerful comments on Monday night. Plan International Australia described the abuse she has been subject to as 'unacceptable'.

Jelena Dokic calls out trolls at Australian Open

During the Australian Open, in which she worked as a commentator for Channel 9, Dokic took to social media to call out a troll who'd targeted her mental health battle. The 39-year-old revealed that a troll had written in Serbian: "Now that the Australian Open is starting will Jelena Dokic try to kill herself like she does every year."

Dokic revealed last year that she'd almost taken her own life in April. She commented: "A new low. Just when you think online abuse and trolling can’t get any worse. Almost 1 million people commit suicide in the world every year. That’s scary and so sad and then people like this disgusting person and a few others out there make fun of it!?

"How disgusting. They should ashamed of themselves. What kind of a person can write something like this and then even worse laugh about it? A bad person, that’s who. And of course an ignorant one."

She later lashed out at 'evil' and 'vile' trolls who had been commenting on her weight throughout the grand slam at Melbourne Park. "The body-shaming in the last 24 hours has been insane. The body-shaming coming out of Serbia has been particularly bad as well as the last picture in my post confirms," she wrote alongside screenshots of a number of messages directed at her.

"Disgusting. People should be so ashamed. The most common being 'what happened to her, she is so big?'"

"I will tell you what happened, I am finding a way and surviving and fighting. And it really doesn't matter what I am doing and what happened because size shouldn't matter. Kindness and being a good person matters, which those of that abuse me and others, are clearly not...Weight will change, but evil people will remain evil."

Dokic's fellow Aussie tennis great and co-commentator on Channel 9, Todd Woodbridge also called out a troll during the Australian Open. Woodbridge revealed that someone had written a message saying they wished his recent heart attack scare had claimed his life. Woodbridge wrote: "Matt didn’t like my commentary alongside Jim Courier but this sort of behaviour is unacceptable and needs to be called out."

Readers seeking support and information can contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.

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