Jelena Dokic is hitting back at online trolls who have bombarded her with what she says have been “disgusting” comments about her physical appearance.
The former Australian tennis star, 39, who was a commentator for the Australian Open at the weekend, shared an Instagram post highlighting a number of people who criticized her body during an interview with nine-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic.
“The body shaming in the last 24 hours has been insane,” Dokic wrote, along with several screenshots of abusive messages comparing her to a “whale” and advising her that she should “cut” from eating “candy bars” and “baklava”. “
The player, whose family is from Serbia, noted that the body shaming coming out of Serbia has been particularly bad – and that many of the messages were from women.
“So much for women supporting women,” she wrote.
“EVIL. There is no other word for it,” she wrote. “Disgusting. People should be so ashamed. The most common comment is ‘what happened to her, she’s so big’? I’ll tell you what happened, I find a way and survive and fight. And it’s really never mind. what I do and what happened because size shouldn’t matter. Kindness and being a good person matters, which those of you who abuse me and others clearly don’t.”
“What matters is your online abuse, bullying and fat shaming,” she told critics. “That’s what matters because those of you who do are just mean, bad, mean and ignorant people. I can and will get in shape for myself and my health, but you won’t become a better person .”
The star went on to say that “the scale will change, but evil people will remain evil.”
“I’m here fighting for all those out there to be abused, to be greased,” she wrote. “I can’t change the world, but I will continue to speak out, call this behavior out, use my platform for good and support other people out there and give others a voice and try to make others feel less alone and scared .”
Dokic went on to thank supporters, all of whom she calls “really good people.”
“Love you all, even the trolls,” she ended the post. “You give me so much motivation and inspiration to do what I do and to fight against people like you.”
Dokic, who retired in 2014 after several career highlights – including the 1999 Wimbledon quarter-finals aged just 16, making it to the last four at Wimbledon a year later – has previously been open about how mental health issues almost her to take her own life.
The crude, body-sized messages are just the latest she has been met with ahead of this year’s Australian Open. On Friday, she revealed a disturbing message someone had written urging her to “kill herself”.
“A new low and this actually made me cry this morning when I woke up and read it,” Dokic wrote in a post along with a screenshot of the message. But she didn’t let it get her down. Instead, she used her platform to sound the alarm about how messages like these have real-life consequences.
“Just when you think online abuse and trolling can’t get any worse,” she wrote. “Nearly 1 million people kill themselves in the world every year. It’s scary and so sad and then people like this disgusting person and a few others out there are making fun of it!? How disgusting. They should be ashamed of themselves.”
“What kind of person can write something like that and worse still laugh at it?” she added. “A bad person, that’s who. And an ignorant one, of course.”
“I think of all those who have committed suicide, those who have wanted to, those who have lost friends and loved ones to suicide and all those who are struggling,” she continued. “I fight for all those who feel they don’t have a voice, who don’t feel heard, for those who struggle, for those who have struggled with suicidal thoughts, lost loved ones and friends to suicide, and I fight against ignorance, bad people, trolls, online abuse and nasty people.”
Dokic noted that so many people “are at their absolute breaking point,” before urging her followers to “be kind, caring and understanding.”
She added: “Sending so much love to all the good people out there and especially to all those who are struggling.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call 911 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the crisis text line at 741741.
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