Last week after I’d written a long-winded post on my Jelena Dokic love and joy, I found myself at the wrath of WordPress and took it as a sign. No waxing lyrical meant I would post on it tomorrow, when, sure enough, she won the quarters and made the semis. Three days later, all with short posts, she was past the semis, into the final and then – what do you know, I was suddenly granted permission to wax as lyrical as I saw fit.
Turns out it’s not so easy to write purple prose praising a tennis player you’ve admired since your teens when you’re blubbering your guts out. Sometimes it takes a few days to simmer and stew. Jinxage aside, let’s talk about my girl.
She did it, ladies and gents. SHE DID IT.
My girl, Jelena Dokic. First favourite female tennis player. The lady I have supported, followed, cried for, been overjoyed for, and now, done both simultaneously: Jelena. She’s had a nation behind her, and managed to slump, scale heights, and slump again, all in front of our red-raw-applauding hands and wide-open-eyes.
In 2009, L & M were lucky to be present when she made her amazing run to the quarters, beating Kleybs in front of a packed home audience. I was at a work function, but the texts told me everything I needed to know. As a nation, we were behind our girl. She seemed to have finally made it out from behind the plait-wearing-seventeen-year-old, yanked from nation to nation, and the scary man she called father who also lent his name to an Australian comedy show segment.
During her quarterfinal against Dinara, we sat in Garden Square and participated in what is to this day one of my favourite experiences watching tennis at a grand slam. Jelena’s QF was all about every single person in Garden Square, from the Heineken bartenders to the kids playing near the busts of Tennis Australia Walk of Fame peoples – everyone was cheering their guts out. (Granted, we also managed to get ourselves on TV doing so, which was kinda nice.)
Look, she lost the match that night, and that was kinda the end of that brilliant resurgence we saw for a moment. I remember M and I in deep discussion over her ‘rescue’ from Damir into the hands of brother duo Tin and Borna. We talked about how strong she had to be, how amazing to get back and train after all the depression, the injuries, the difficulty, the serious, lets-call-a-spade-a-spade TRIUMPH OVER ADVERSITY, bizness. She did all that.
She then had to cope with flack as shortly after, in an interview with Sport and Style, she insinuated Damir physically abused her. Suddenly, the scary Serb was back all over Australian newspapers, and this time, we weren’t laughing the way we used to. Back then, it was kinda funny, harmless, he was just a douche and not much we could do about it. Now it was personal.
Threats of bombing the Aussie embassy will get you in serious shit, and that’s what happened to Damir Dokic. He’s out of the picture for now, but lawd knows what kind of turmoil Jelena goes through day to day, having all this seriousness, this intensity, this absolute CRAP THAT LIFE HAS THROWN HER behind her.
But I’m not here to wax lyrical over the shit she’s gone through. (Though I did do just that on Monday morning, when I returned to work buoyed up and inspired, and proceeded to tell all my workmates the above story, in detail.)
Because, you guys, SHE DID IT.
First time in nine years, and Jelena Dokic – that’s her there, kissing a trophy. Winning a title. Raising her arms in triumph. Doing all those things even I, as a fan, never thought I’d see her doing again.
If I recall correctly, there’s a post I did in my first few weeks of blogging, during the AO 2010. M, L and I were witness to her frankly shocking performance against Kleybs on Rod Laver Arena, the first night of the tournament. I remember wondering we can remind this girl, with all the love in the stadium behind her, that she can do it – she can DO IT – while she instead shakes and quakes and forgets how to actually hit that ball.
Now she’s back, and the numbers are oh-so-pretty. First semifinal in forever, first title in forever, first final in forever. Stumbling home at 5am on Saturday night, waking up bleary eyed at 8am to find myself dozing on and off during the match, I was bolt upright and wide awake during the last two games and found myself going – damn, she’s hitting that ball well. That only lasted as long as it took for my eyes to cloud over because darling tennis-loving readers, who I hope to hell only read this because you get me when I tell you – I was a blubbery mess, bawling my eyes out. The few tears that snuck out at match point became serious blubbering, and I was skyping L and showing her my tears and dancing with joy because OUR GIRL DID IT.
She’s Jelena Dokic, guys. She’s my countrywoman, she’s my lady tennis player love, and most importantly: She is my inspiration.