Kathryn Favelle: Resilience. I know it's something we've all been talking about and thinking about how do we raise resilient children? How do we manage our own resilience in the face of difficult circumstances or challenges? Is it something we can learn or is it something we we're born with?  

Good evening everyone, and welcome to the National Library of Australia. I'm Kathryn Favelle, the Library's Director of Reader Services and your host this evening. I acknowledge Australia's First Nations people, the First Australians as the traditional owners and custodians of this land. And I give my respects to their elders past and present, and through them to all Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.  

Thank you for joining us this evening, either in person or online. Tonight's guest is someone who has become a role model to many for her resilience. In 2017, she made international headlines with the release of her bestselling memoir, “Unbreakable”, revealing years of shocking abuse at the hands of her father as she climbed to number four in the women's tennis rankings. Her second book, “Fearless: Finding the Power to Thrive”, is about reclaiming life and the power of sharing our stories. It's about having the strength to stand for what you believe in and being strong enough to ask for help when it's needed. "Fearless" is about starting at the bottom and building yourself back up. Please join me in welcoming the indomitable Jelena Dokic. 

Jelena Dokic: What a lovely welcome. 

Kahryn Favelle: Welcome back.  

Jelena Dokic: I've never had something like that, like walking out like that and a very organised and the door opening, and I'm waiting there and going, but no, great. Thank you. Thank you for coming. I'm excited to be in Canberra and I actually did a part of my book tour for my first book “Unbreakable” here, right here in this room as well. So when we were able to put this together, I was so excited. So thank you to everyone who came. 

Kathryn Favelle: Yeah, well, we're very delighted to have you back. But I actually wanted to take you back to that first book tour and that moment in time and ask you how you were feeling when that first book came out. You know, what did you think was going to happen next for Jelena Dokic?

Jelena Dokic: I had no idea what was gonna happen next, but that was really, I would say, I kind of even say the beginning of something that I never thought was, to be honest with you possible. And something that if you told me exactly six years ago when “Unbreakable” came out, that I would be here, not just personally, but professionally in my healing journey and kind of everything that Unbreakable would do for me, but also in the work that I want to do for the rest of my life. I honestly wouldn't have believed you. But, it was exciting. It was a whirlwind for me, “Unbreakable” is, you know, and even now, my second book, it's something that I want to leave behind. I want that to be my legacy and, we’ll obviously get into it, but I just wanted people to see that you can go through hardship and you can go through adversity in different ways, but that you can come out. But for me, I didn't know that writing “Unbreakable” would actually be the way to find my voice for the first time in pretty much three decades, because I was silenced and kind of lived a life where I wasn't allowed to be my true self ever. And those are unfortunately consequences of domestic violence and mental health.  

So for me, when “Unbreakable” came out, and I've said it every single day since, was literally the best day of my life. And I don't say that lightly because I've had lows, yes but I've also had incredible highs. But that was the day I found my voice, I found my power, I found, yeah, who I really am as a person. It was the beginning of healing. And I really found, yeah, found so many things that I never knew even existed and were possible. But that is the power of speaking up, and that is the power of finding our voice, but also sharing our stories because as it turns out, it was important for not just myself, but for others. And to do the work that I'm doing today, which is to advocate for so many things and changes and to normalise those really tough conversations around so many issues and to remove that shame and stigma. Because I, like so many before me, and unfortunately after me as well, did suffer in silence and it almost cost me my life. But that kind of stopped the day that I was able to tell my story. And a lot of that pain was released and yeah, that weight was lifted off my shoulders that I didn't even know was there.

Kathryn Favelle: Did you think at that point that you'd written your story, it was received amazingly, beautifully all around the world, were you thinking, oh, I've done it, I've told my story, great, I'm ready to move on to the next chapter? Or were you thinking maybe there's more than one book in me?

Jelena Dokic: I don't think I knew right at the time, when “Unbreakable”, when I wrote it, and when it came out, what the next step was. I kind of felt like there is more for sure. But I wouldn't have got to this stage of writing another one. I had to do a lot of still, healing and personal growth. But also, yeah, even though the book was received so well, it was, for so many people, which I obviously understand, shocking to read a lot of the things that I write about. I'm completely open and honest in “Unbreakable” and about the two decades of physical and emotional abuse, what that looked like, my mental health struggles and almost taking my own life at the age of 22 for the first time. Yeah, child abuse, bullying and racism that I faced. But also then at the same time being a professional athlete and being in the spotlight and still being able to perform as one of the best players in the world, and get to a Grand Slam semi-final and final. So yeah, I didn't know what was next. I just knew that, yeah, I really felt like kind of myself for the very first time by writing “Unbreakable”, a lot of my own pain and silence was released.  

But I went into writing “Unbreakable”, just wanting to tell my story and thinking, look, maybe it will help someone. I wanted someone maybe to read it and feel like they're not alone, like they do belong, like they are accepted. That they get a bit of comfort and hope and belief out of the book. I even say at the end of “Unbreakable”, that if it helps one person, it's mission accomplished. So that's why I went into the project originally because when I was going through a lot of my things, a lot of tough things, I didn't really feel like we talked about that a lot and that you had people that you could resonate with and that you could look up to that can maybe even be role models. So I felt like maybe someone will read this, doesn't matter if it's a male, female, boy, girl, anybody, a parent, a coach, or doesn't matter, but maybe it will make a difference for someone. So that's all I wanted. I didn't even know how it was going to be received, but it changed everything.  

And two things happened when “Unbreakable” came out. For me personally, I realised the power of sharing our stories for us personally and how vulnerability is actually a strength. But another thing was happening, which was really in a way shocking to me, both in a positive and a little bit in a negative way. Positive was that people were just so amazing in the way that they read my story and received it. And how much support I got was just incredible. I didn't even, to be honest with you, connect or get that with people at the height of my tennis career. So it was amazing.  

And then I at the same time, didn't know why, and people would, I would meet people and even on the streets and people would be putting down their windows of cars, they would be like 30, 40 metres away from me and scream out, “thank you”. And the first kind of week or two I was going, I was telling kind of my closest people to me,” I don't know why are they thanking me” in a way. And then I started actually getting into some conversations. And then people would say, “thank you for writing your book, we don't talk about these things, there is so much shame and stigma”. I knew there was, but I didn't know just how much. Until you see that and hear that firsthand from people, the labels as well around whether it was victim blaming, whether it was mental health, straight away you were considered crazy. And then I realised, wow, there is so much shame and stigma, but not even as a public person or someone that has a public profile, but even within family and friendship circles and workplaces and sport, which I knew about. But I was like shocked with just how much it was.  

So that realisation for me changed everything, which is where I found my calling and my purpose. And I said, “look, I'm going to continue for the rest of my life to try and advocate for that, to try and be maybe a voice for people that feel like they don't have one, turn everything that I do into something that can make a change”. So whether that's social media and turn that into a positive community, whether it's my books, whether it's my speaking, yeah, it opened up a lot of obviously doors to be able to do that. And that's what I kind of am on that path now for six years already. But we do get to the next stage and we do get to my next book, “Fearless”.

Kathryn Favelle: And “Fearless” I think is really about shame busting in lots of respects. Who has read “Fearless” yet?

Jelena Dokic: What are you waiting for?

Kathryn Favelle: That's right. You can buy a copy upstairs from the Bookshop later. 

Jelena Dokic: I'm joking. I have a bit of a sarcastic sense of humour, so don't take that seriously. 

Kathryn Favelle: You really do get into a lot of the things that we don't want to talk about. You know, mental health for one, abuse, but also periods, breast feeding, all sorts of things. Some of the things we might talk about tonight, you might find a bit confronting, particularly given the last couple of weeks. If you need it all to take a little break and step outside and have a glass of water, please do that. But we'll see how we go and see what stigmas we can break down tonight. So what was the moment for you where you went, I'm ready to write “Fearless”? Did it sneak up on you or was it a--

Jelena Dokic: No, not straight away. After writing “”Unbreakable, it took a couple of years. I was still finding out, to be honest with you, who I am as a person, but also reinventing myself. For those that don't know and didn't read “Unbreakable”, “Fearless”, or both. I retired at the age of 29, but I was left with, yeah, I was deep in depression, anxiety, trauma, PTSD, eating disorder as well. And that is a very early time to retire at 29, certainly because I still wanted to play, but I had too many injuries, mental health struggles, and I had nothing left. So it was actually a bit of a sudden retirement and I had no idea what was next for me professionally. But actually it was a battle to now live a normal life. Will I ever be able to do that again and be happy? It really was.

Kathryn Favelle: Did you know what a normal life was?  

Jelena Dokic: No. Well, that's the thing. I kind of knew a few things that I wanted in my life, but yeah, I had an idea of maybe what it looked like, but I never experienced that. And certainly not from the age of six. So for me, I was just going, okay, what is my purpose in life? I was kind of standing there even privately going, “why am I, and who am I in this world? What is, you know, what is my purpose? What is next for me?”  

So I was someone that was locked in my room 24/7, nothing to aspire to in a way, no goals and dreams, and certainly someone that didn't believe in being able to do anything or achieve anything. I had no social skills, couldn't string two sentences together. I couldn't look people in the eye. And it was, yeah, I was aware of that. It was a worry. I knew I was deep, deep in depression.  

So actually the opportunity came by just kind of in a way accidentally, but I don't think it was an accident or a coincidence that it landed on my manager's table from Penguin, that opportunity to write “Unbreakable”. But I still had to make those choices. Is this something that I wanna do? I straightaway said, “look, if I'm doing this, I'm doing it properly. I'm gonna detail everything”. And that is something that, you know, was a non-negotiable for me with my publisher. And they were straight away on board, which was amazing. But it was for me, a battle and a decision that I still had to make and go, “do I wanna do that? What could be the consequences? Is it positive, even for me?” So it felt like the right thing to do and it felt like, yeah, like something was telling me, do it.  

So you gotta know that it's easy to sit here now and talk about, ah, it's been amazing and had amazing, you know, amazing effect. But we didn't know that at the time. “Fearless” for me, maybe about two or three years into “Unbreakable”, I kind of felt like, you know, there's more here. I really discovered the true power of sharing our stories, but then also turning it around going, “well, we actually need a safe space and environment for people, and especially victims and survivors to be able to do that no matter what you've gone through”. So for me, I felt like I took that kind of almost gamble to do that. And it was received amazing, but we still had a lot of work to do. And that's what “Fearless” is about.  

"Fearless” is very different to “Unbreakable”. “Unbreakable” was a memoir life story, but “Fearless” is about how do you thrive, especially if you've been through something. How do you find that power? How do you find that belief? How do you find that hope when you're down? And I wanted people to know that you don't have to be defined and defeated by your past. No matter what you've gone through it does not have to, doesn't have to be your future that you can change that. I still cover things like mental health, media impact, social media, trolling, body shaming, and so on. But I, yeah, I take a much bigger kind of, let's say, a deep dive into things that have helped me. And yeah, just so that you know that you can be down, you can build yourself back up, you can start all over again if you have to. And giving that hope to people.  

I think “Fearless” is really, really a hopeful book. I have a lot of mantras and quotes that I live by, a lot of takeaways at the end of chapters as well. And yeah, ultimately something where I think a lot of people can probably find something, whether you've gone through trauma or not, whether you've gone through any kind of adversity on hardship, I think you can find, or hopefully you can find, something in there that can give you some hope. That can give you a bit of light. I take a little bit of a mindfulness perspective as well in the second part of the book and things that have helped me and the power of gratitude.  

But also a big one that I found that for me, was lifesaving, is that I had that one person believe in me. I didn't have a lot. And I felt both sides of the medal when I've had no one. And it almost cost me my life, but also when I did have that one person and it changed everything. And I think often we maybe feel, or I don't know if we're brought up to kind of feel like we need a family and a lot of friends to feel safe, and obviously the more the better, yes. But I really found that if you have that one person that believes in you, you can literally move mountains. It can be life saving, not changing, saving. And I have had two or three people at different times that were there for me and it saved my life. And if I didn't have them, I wouldn't be here today. But why I say talk about the power of that is that I turn it again around and go, you can be that person for someone. And that is so important today.  

And I talk about a few people, I talk about Todd Woodbridge a lot, especially. 

Kathryn Favelle: He seems to have become a really important person in your professional life and a great friend.  

Jelena Dokic: Especially 'cause he's not family. Do we know who Todd is? That's a bigger reception than about my book. Come on. No, he would love that. He's amazing. He obviously not just as a tennis player, but commentator, host everything that he does. He's such a hard worker as well. But at the same time, most importantly, an amazing person. And we did not start our friendship until kind of 2009. And yes, it's been 15 years now, but that was when I was kind of 25. But really not until about, you know, when I retired at 29/30, he was the first and only person that set me down straight away the next day after I retired. And he said, “what are we gonna do?” And I was like, “I have no idea, what do you mean?” But he said, “what are we gonna do? We start now, you have to think about what's next. Tennis is done. I know it's hard, been there”, but it was almost like, okay, this is our issue and problem we're gonna tackle this together. And that was massive. He did not leave me on the side. Like a lot of people do, especially sport is brutal. The phone just stops ringing. It's a very kind of, you live in a bubble while you're a sports person, but the reality of it when you stop is brutal. That's why a lot of athletes struggle, but not Todd.

Kathryn Favelle: I do have a question for you about being on the tennis tour and whether it's possible to actually make friends when what you're doing every day is going out, trying to beat one another. Is it a place where you can build a friendship like you had with Todd?

Jelena Dokic: Well, I think in general, you know, life is tough and you might not end up having, you know, a lot of, maybe a lot of friends for one reason or another. I know there's a lot of people as well that do different things. And especially in sport, you move around a lot. We don't, sometimes a lot of athletes unfortunately don't end up going to normal school. You're homeschooled so that you can play more. So you don't actually develop those friendships outside of sport. And yes, sport is brutal. You don't have a lot of friends unless it's a team sport. And that's the reality of it.  

But that's why Todd's approach to it is even more to me was fascinating and important. And yeah, if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be here today professionally. But like if you heard him at that time, when, like I said, I could not even go past saying hello to people, for him to go, “you can be a speaker, you can do so much with your story, you know, you can write things, you can be a commentate”. He knew I had a little bit of that interest in commentary. That's the only thing we were kind of sure of. “You know, you can commentate, you can be on TV, you can be this”. And I'm looking at him going, “who are you talking about?” Literally. And I said that to him. He goes, “trust me, you can”. It's just, you know, and here I am. And now he tells me constantly “I told you so”. You know, even when “Fearless” came out, “I told you”, you know, when I'm doing this speaking, “I told you”. So we laugh about it, but that's the power of that person believing in you.  

My late mother-in-law who died four years ago, and she took me in when I was 20, when I had no family. I really didn't feel or had a lot of times in my life where I felt accepted or seen or supported. When you don't have your family, you feel like, “gee, I don't really have a lot”. If your family's not behind you, doesn't kind of support you and love you. But unfortunately a lot of us will go through life maybe with not having a family. So that's also a big part. I wanted to show people, look, life is not sunshine and rainbows and you might go through a lot in life, but if you've got that one person, gee, you can do a lot. But I did that to show people you can be that for someone, you know.  

So she was amazing because she took me in, she was the kindest person, went through so much herself, but really shown me the kindness that, and Todd as well, and same with my former partner, who I was with for almost two decades, and even though we're not together we have such a great relationship still, that really taught me what kindness is. And taught me that being there for another person is the best thing you can do for someone in your life. And she also had this incredible power of gratitude. Even though she went through so much for her, she was so happy with the simplest things. And it was fascinating to me because with tennis and in general in life, sometimes we can get lost in the world of money and success and all of these different things.  

And I never understood why she was getting up at four in the morning to have her coffee for two hours. And I used to see her do that all the time 'cause I was also an early riser and through work as well. And before anyone, before sunrise, and then she would write in her journal. We never knew what she was writing. But she was so grateful for that moment. And that was hers. Even if someone came, we knew, you know, don't talk to her until she's kind of finished with that coffee. Not that she didn't want to, it was that that was her moment. And she would write and she would even do that on the balcony sometimes. I never understood it as what is so special about that. And now I do.  

I didn't drink coffee until I was 34 and I swear I started drinking coffee because of her just to see what it was about. And I hated it at first, but now I get it. And I get it even more since she unfortunately passed away because it's so special for me now to have that moment for me. And I still journal a little bit, not as much as her, but I always write down a few sentences and it is my moment in the day. If I have that, I'm happy. Anything else is a bonus. So that's how I've really discovered the true meaning of happiness. If we can be really happy with the simple things, everything else is a bonus. Everything else that you are able to get, great. And yeah, I learned the power of gratitude and those small things from her. She really enjoyed that. And I got into that.  

And yeah, she really valued, because we travelled a lot, I was on the tour a lot, valued when she can talk to us and hear us and hear our voice. And now I realise why when I can't call her. But tell you the one thing that she did, she, my 2009 Australian open run, she said to us, :bring me all the newspaper clippings”. And we were like, “why?” You know, “just bring me everything”. Because it was on the front pages, back pages. And so we brought that to her. We had no idea what she was gonna do it. We thought, “oh, she just wanted to see it”. And about two weeks later she framed everything and put it up on the walls. And I have never felt more loved. And for a person to do that, I would say those moments saved me. 

Kathryn Favelle: Yeah. 

Jelena Dokic: And that's why I talk about the importance of them. So I try to be that person for someone today, and I try to spread that message because I think unfortunately in the world today, especially with social media, some of these really, let's say, should be normal things and simple core values, I think we've lost that a little bit. 

Kathryn Favelle: Let's talk for a moment about your social media because you know, for many people and for many women in the public eye, social media has become a very toxic place. But you made the move into Instagram and said, “I'm gonna make this my own community”. What was your motivation for joining Instagram and for building that community?

Jelena Dokic: Because I didn't want to be that person that does go into, not that everyone is toxic, by the way, let's make that clear on social media. I know it's a lot, but there are amazing people and men and women that do amazing things on social media and use it for good. And I wanted to be one of those people. I did not wanna be one of those people that goes into that toxic group. And at the same time, you know what I'm actually, I think quite a creative person. I like a challenge. And for me, I liked being on Instagram. I found that a lot nicer than others. Not that I went on others, but everyone said, “oh, Instagram's probably the more, let's say visual one with images”. And I actually quite like photography and things. So I went into that originally when my first book came out, but then I was like, “okay, maybe I can even turn this into a community, something positive where I can spread some positive messages and vibes”.  

And I knew look, it could kind of at the same time be a gamble again with so much trolling going on. And I heard so much about it before I went into it, but I was ready for that. And I said, “look, if I don't like it, if something happens where it's really affecting me and my mental health, I'll go off that”. But I kind of really felt like so many people were also there for me in the first kind of year or two. And when my first book came out. And then obviously, and unfortunately, the bigger your profile gets, it comes with trolling. And people that will write things that are not nice and that are mean. And it happened. But I went into it going, you know what, I am not going to kind of back away. I don't think that I'm doing anything wrong here. In fact, I'm trying to use it for something positive. And I, as someone who's trying to do something good, should not have to leave. And it should be people that are trolling and just sitting behind a keyboard, especially behind anonymous accounts and that are trolling and making people feel really bad.  

So I didn't want to back down from that because, maybe it also comes from my history of domestic violence and going through so much physical and emotional abuse at the hands of my father. Also, the media was quite, in a way, I don't know the word to use, in a way not very kind at the time. And let's say turned their head and a blind eye to a lot of the things that was going on with my father and didn't call out that behaviour. So now, as someone that is all for that and shared my story and I was like, “I'm not going to back down”. And it was about how do I do that? I didn't want to get into this war with people writing bad comments, even though I would reply and I still do today and say, “look, did writing that to me actually really make you feel good? Do you realise what you wrote?” Sometimes they don't even reply back, but even if they do, I leave it at that or if they really get vile, I block. 

Kathryn Favelle: Yeah. 

Jelena Dokic: But I wanted to put a message out there on social media, media talk about it, and expose actually, and show the messages that I get. And people were shocked. And obviously I was shocked when I got them, but the more I was getting and let's, I will make it clear, it's less than 0.0001%. But it's still, when you count them, it's a lot. One is more than we should get, right? We shouldn't even get one. But I kind of said, “well, we get that all the time”. People in the public eye especially, “oh, we get that all the time”. And they were like “really?” and I said, “yeah”. And then I was actually meeting people that get the same even that are not in the public eye.  

And I wanted to show that and I wanted to show to people what people actually write, especially people that you don't know behind these accounts. And it was amazing because everyone reacted so well. Social media, whether you were a tennis fan or not, the media wrote columns and articles on it and all of a sudden about, you know, a year into it, so that was mostly last year, everyone was writing about it and you could really feel a shift going, enough is enough. We need to do something about social media. Or, you know, I actually didn't expose those accounts. I would rub out their actual account names, but I would show the messages and people were like “just even show their account”, which I never wanted to do. But what I wanted to turn it into is, again, that we don't have a toxic place. That we don't have a hateful place. You know, bitter, resentful that that's what I kind of felt like some of these messages were. And I didn't think it was fair that I and others get it.  

So I kind of made it my mission to go, you know what, I'm gonna call this out and I'm gonna talk about it because you never know what anyone's going through. I had a pretty thick skin. And I would still kind of go, “wow, did you really just write that?” And people were coming to me and saying, well, “thank you”. Because I, so even people in the public eye, I didn't feel like I could maybe take that on, would I get backlash? Because trolling is a thing where so many will get on that kind of toxic train and go attack you even more, didn't feel comfortable. It was this kind of big elephant in the room.  

And it was so easy for people to say, “ah just go off social media”, you know, “maybe it's not for you”. And I'm like, “yeah, it is for me, but it's not for me to get really abusive messages”. I didn't think that the point of social media should be hate. So that's why I took it on. And that's why I feel so passionate about it, and especially for the younger generation, because we are at a stage where we can't stop them going on social media. I think we're way past that. And the message needs to be, look, we need a positive space and environment and community. And you know what? If I look at my social or my Instagram now and my social media, tell you what, it's a positive place. 

Kathryn Favelle: A gorgeous part of the world.

Jelena Dokic: People come on there to get comfort, to get help, talk between each other on comments and go, oh, I'm sorry you're going through that to another person. And when I see that, I'm like, yes, that's exactly what I wanted to do and that's why I'm on it. So yeah, that's why I called it out.

Kathryn Favelle: Yeah. It leads me to ask, now that you're part of the media through your commentary work and your social media and your public speaking, what are the things that you would like, how would you like to see the media change? I'm sure you've got a plan. 

Jelena Dokic: How much time have you got? I talk about the media both in “Unbreakable” and “Fearless”. Because when I was going through a lot of my things, my father was starting to unravel publicly, even though that was only 1% of what was actually going on behind closed doors. But it was more than enough. All of the incidents and the way that he was behaving with the media and they were jumping on the train to straightaway do interviews with him, and he was drunk, he was aggressive. I didn't even in that moment as a 15, 16, 17-year-old, understand why that behaviour was not called out. And in fact, I was completely kind of dragged into it. I straight away it was looked at through my father's eyes, my reputation was shattered. But even more than that, again, I did not understand why he was a joke and a punchline and a headline and even drawings made of him and his behaviour instead of that being called out. And that really stayed with me for a very long time. And that was one of the things I wanted to cover in both of my books and I do. And about how that needs to be treated with caution and actually with compassion and empathy, but also it needs to be called out instead of getting, you know, kind of that click bait and getting that headline. And my father's behaviour was concerning. He also wasn't banned of the tour for a very long time, for years until he was actually banned at least three years too late. And I was 16, for example, my brother was 8. And no one for a second stop to ask, listen, “what's going on here? Should we be concerned? Because there is two underage kids actually going home with this person and he's clearly not alright, something is wrong here”. So I again shared that story so that we are 20 years on now, and my question is, are we better as media and social media?  

So again, I want to make it clear and really stress that I did not come from any blame or business or resentment. And that was really important. I don't hold any bad feelings or anything towards the media. For me, again, it was all about: are we better? Am I sitting here 20 years later and I can genuinely say we are doing better. And I will pose that question again. If I'm here in 20 years time: are we better than today? That is what's important. It's important when it comes to anything: domestic violence, any kind of abuse, mental health illnesses, the shame stigma and labels are massive. We are better today than we even were 10 years ago or even five years ago. But it's only because, and only because really strong, brave, and courageous people took the step into the unknown and shared their story. So we are now learning from those experiences like Grace Tame, like the Me Too movement, like Simone Biles and the US Gymnastics team and what that uncovered, which to be honest with you, as an athlete, we knew about. Even the abuse of the coaches and the support staff, not just parents, but it changed laws, it changed a lot for a lot of the governing bodies, but it's only the beginning because it's such a massive problem.  

So ultimately what our kind of collective goal is that by sharing our stories, we can change something and we know what we didn't have and what needs to be there in place. So it was for people to listen to us and our stories to change something.  

But the shame, stigma and labels are so massive, that it was hard to break through and it still is for a lot of people. That they will not talk about it. And they will have that fear. Like I said, you were victim blamed instead of why aren't we putting that shame and stigma at the feet of the abusers and perpetrators instead, right? Why are we not naming and shaming people that commit that domestic violence and that abuse. Even in today's day, I don't even have to talk about the latest disappointing figures of one woman being killed every four days. But it's also, I'm not seeing the pictures of those men and showing who that did and naming and shaming them. And that for me is just, we have a long way to go.  

But I will stress this as well. I know, and I have met, and I have men in my life that are amazing like Todd, like, you know, my former partner and that is, you know, I really use the word cautiously. It is not everyone, but it's clearly a problem. But that's why we need to tell the hard stories and there's no way forward or to lead or to be a change maker unless you tell the hard stories. You cannot turn your head to them because you're turning your head to the victims and survivors. So we need to talk about that.  

Media obviously failed in my case and probably many others. I do think it's better today, but there's still a long way to go. There's no doubt about that. And if there's one thing I would say is, look, when we've got that story that is, you know, covering that really difficult subject and topic, let's cover it, let's talk about it to give it visibility, give it that, you know, let's shine a light on that with empathy and compassion. Give the space to the victims and survivors.  

And I have had in the last six years where I've wanted to talk about and cover certain things. And I'll be honest, some journalists or let's say media outlets didn't wanna do it. And oh, still though, I've had quite a few that have, I think it was amazing for a lot of the media and journalists to apologise to me when “Unbreakable” came out, but I didn't do it for that reason at all. I've always said I don't blame anyone. And it is really important also as someone that maybe wants to create change and be an advocate that you don't come from a hateful perspective or blame or resentment. And that is what I wanted with “Unbreakable” and “Fearless”. And I really want the people to feel my story, but that I am not bitter, resentful or hate anyone.  

And that is so important also in the way that I live my life. I think if you've been through any kind of domestic violence abuse, that is hard. It's very hard to feel kind of, like I said, that acceptance and especially if someone has hurt you really badly. But I wanna project that. I wanna put that out there. And I've worked with a lot of, also victims and survivors of domestic violence and child abuse and even sexual abuse. And that is the first thing I kind of try and go, “look, let's try and come from a positive perspective. You can turn your pain into something good, bad into good or negative into positive experience”. And I want, you know, if we can generally as a society ,that includes media, social media come from that place, great.  

But that is why I talk about the importance of media and doing that. I discuss it in both books. And even though, yeah, I say some tough things and things that happened at the time. I think we need to show how careless that was. But again, I wanted to make it my mission that I am not out here being hateful at all. And I don't even hate my father. I said, maybe some people find that really surprising, but I did not even wanna hate my father. I haven't spoken to him in 10 years. And that's all right. We don't need to have a relationship. And especially with someone that doesn't see like, or doesn't have the capability to love or to love me as a daughter and be kind of that way towards me, and that's all right. But I even with that said, no, I don't hate my father. Do I forgive him? No. I think that's also something I talk about in “Fearless”. I don't necessarily think you need to forgive. But I come from a place of let's accept, accept the circumstances, accept the person for who they are. It says everything about them. But let's go into everything without hate. 

Kathryn Favelle: I think for me, reading “Fearless”, your grace and your graciousness is one of the things that comes through really strongly. And is a beautiful example also of your resilience and your ability to look towards the future in a positive way. I've heard you say, use the phrase “from victim to survivor to thriver”. And I wondered if you might share with us what the difference is for you between being a survivor and being a thriver. 

Jelena Dokic: Oh, it's a long road, but I feel like for me, resilience and vulnerability is a massive thing that I've discovered. Vulnerability I feel like is such an underestimated value and something that we look at as a weakness. And I've discovered that in this whole process. And I've discovered that through sport as well because, and society. Silence was always golden. If you talked about anything that resembled any kind of domestic violence or anything, abuse or mental health or eating disorders, anything. You were shamed and stigmatised, but you were looked at as weak. And even in sport, you felt like you were giving yourself away. You felt like with the media sponsors and fans, maybe you were straight away not going to be worthy and good enough. So for me, vulnerability, I feel like saved my life. My opening up and being able to share my story.  

And in fact, I think that if you can find that power to be vulnerable, but that means just being open about no matter what you go through and standing in that power in your voice and speaking up and sharing your story. In fact, it's a massive strength. And that's what I wanted to also talk about.  

I think being able to thrive, you have to be able to, I think have that power of vulnerability. I feel like the strongest and bravest and most courageous people have this willingness and ability to be vulnerable and actually not be ashamed of it. And vulnerability is a massive strength, not a weakness. I think we need to change that narrative.  

Resilience, I always kind of felt like I'm quite resilient, I feel like, of being an athlete. And then also on the other side going through so much off the court as well. And not even just at the hands of my father, but I was a refugee, a two-time refugee. We didn't grow up with very much, especially when we were refugees. I remember so many days, like we did not have anything to eat. We were lucky if we had bread to eat. I saw my first dead body when I was eight years old. My brother was three months old and memories of me holding him with my mom in one metre of snow waiting at the Red Cross at 4:00 AM to just get some bread. So for me, I feel like, okay, I felt like I was quite resilient even as a child.  

But I discovered the true power of resilience when I retired, believe it or not, because there were so many obstacles even in that moment when I was going through a lot. I always felt like tennis was my safety, my comfort zone. I was good at it. I felt like that was always a win for me. But when I retired, there was no win for me, especially because I was so deep in depression. So resilience I really discovered is massive.  

And I discovered a couple of things where, for me, resilience is really defined by taking on. And when you're resilient, you can always take and find something to learn and something positive, whether you have a negative or a positive experience. You always learn something. Keeping that kind of, I think your main purpose, your core purpose, your character and your strength when life circumstances are dramatically altered. I think resilient people have this belief that they can really change things. I really discovered that and I had to have that belief when I stopped playing tennis. When I had no idea what I was going to do. I had to have the belief I can change something and I had to have the belief that I can go out there and now do different things.  

But I also really think that I found that resilience is when you can have these setbacks, but you can get back up and not just get kind of through the setbacks, but get past them and be stronger, wiser, more resilient and actually really learn from them and they can make you better. 

Kathryn Favelle: Do you think resilience is a muscle that we can all build or is it something that you're blessed with? 

Jelena Dokic: No, I think you can learn resilience, definitely. I think for me it's a simple thing of, okay, maybe you've had a great couple of days and then you have a bad day and you feel like maybe today all I've got is 20% in me, give that 20%. And it's the acceptance of mistakes and failures I think that makes you resilient. A lot of the times, we look at mistakes and failures as a life ending and like being, “oh, that's it, it's the end of the world”. It's not, if you fall down nine times, you get up 10, you're good. It's not about the nine times you fell, it's about the 10th time you got up.  

And I actually found a lot of that through commentary, TV, speaking. Look, I made mistakes. I didn't get here today doing all of these different kind of fields that I'm in by getting everything right, far from it. I made a lot of mistakes, but you know what I did? I took them in my stride, I embraced them. And as someone who grew up in an environment and a household and a parent that no matter what I did, it was not good enough, I was very tough on myself for a very long time. I was a perfectionist. And at times there's nothing wrong with that, but you can go too far where then you get to a stage where nothing is good enough and then it plays with your mind. So it's kind of a vicious cycle, but I think you can, yeah, you can definitely work on that. And yeah, I think resilience is a massive part of thriving.  

And I go through a couple of things that are very important, I don't think we have time for all of that. That is why I like to put it down in books and I feel like this people can really pick up and even go just to the end of chapters and I have takeaways. 

Kathryn Favelle: You have to read the whole chapter sorry.  

Jelena Dokic: And you can just go and read a couple. No, and seriously read a couple and go, oh, okay. Yeah. I even sometimes go to the back of the chapters and go, “yeah, I forgot about that”. And someone actually posted, and it's the story today, I reposted it, of a couple of my sentences and a little paragraph and I thought oh, that's right. I wrote that. So that's why I like “Fearless”. It's so different to “Unbreakable”. And yes, I never thought I would say this, but I am just as proud of “Fearless” as I was of “Unbreakable”. And I never thought I would say that because “Unbreakable” was so successful, but also it was tough to write those that have read :Unbreakable” will know what I'm talking about and how I describe all the abuse in very, very fine detail. But I think it was important to say that. But “Fearless” is about thriving and how you do it. 

Kathryn Favelle: Yeah. Yeah, it is. And on that note, I'm gonna open the floor to your questions, encourage you all to be fearless. Put your hands up and wait for a microphone to come to you. We are online tonight, so we want everyone to hear your questions. And if you see someone in the middle of your row with their hand up and suddenly a microphone lands in your hand, pass it along quickly. It's like a really quick game of pass the parcel. So who would like to, oh, we've got a gentleman in the front row. Kelly, you're gonna have to run down here and get the parcel started. 

Audience memeber 1: Jelena. 

Jelena Dokic: Yes. 

Audience member 1: I always knew you were going to be a star. I told you many times. 

Jelena Dokic: Yeah, thank you. 

Audience member 1: This is Natalie, you remember? 

Jelena Dokic: Yes, I do. 

Audience member 1: Yeah.

Jelena Dokic: I just didn't see. I just realised.

Audience member 1: There was one day that I will never forget and I was talking with Natalie about that, we were getting ready for the nationals and that was the moment that we were training very late. And you did one call and then you retracted and he hit you so hard. I wanted to call the police, but you said no, you were so scared and I respected that. I wanted to help you there. Right there and then. Anyone else want to talk? 

Kathryn Favelle: Thank you. 

Audience member 1: I will get emotional if I continue.

Kathryn Favelle: Yeah, yeah, I know. Thank you for sharing.

Jelena Dokic: Thank you.

Kathryn Favelle: Oh, in the second row. That's convenient. Thank you. 

Jelena Dokic: I just, I didn't realise you were here. 

Audience member 1: Last time I saw you was in America. 

Jelena Dokic: I know. Sorry. 

Audience member 2: I think, sorry, I'm here. I think as your fans, we can understand why the media apologised, because we always feel like we want to apologise too, that we could see the train wreck. And we watched, but we didn't speak out. But I'm so glad that you are still around because your commentary is incredible.

Jelena Dokic: Thank you. 

Audience member 2: And. We're so blessed by having you share your knowledge, which is incredibly deep. And I wonder if you can share a bit about what you see on tour now and are you seeing people calling out the behaviours that you suffered under? 

Jelena Dokic: Look, I think you just took me back to the time. No, no, not in a bad way. I haven't seen you for so long. No, no, no. And of course I’d like to see you, but it was such a, yeah, I remember things like that where I wanted to be so fair and call things out and then call the ball in. And I talk about that in “Unbreakable” where I was, I was actually calling balls out that weren't because I was forced to win points. Anyway, I'm so sorry you took me to it. but I'm so happy that you're here actually, thanks. Sorry. I'm gonna have to talk to you after. No, because also it's good to see you from that time because I wasn't allowed to be friends with people as well, and it was hard for me because we had amazing people like you and I wasn't allowed to say anything or be friends. So yeah, it's so good to see you.  

Yeah, look, there's a lot of that. It does, unfortunately, look, you see what happens in society today, right? So it's the same thing. It's in sport and the thing that needed to change was the calling out, but also what's in place. We had nothing in place, even if as a player or as an athlete, if you wanted to leave, a few of us actually did it. And we did it all on our own. We had to organise it on our own or we had to, that was the real problem. And I talk about in my book, one of those moments being that semi-final at Wimbledon when I was 17, and I wasn't allowed to come back home after making the semi-finals at Wimbledon because my father thought that was a disgrace and I slept on the grounds of Wimbledon.  

And you know, I think yes, that things are better, but then you do have moments where you go, well look at what happened with the US gymnastics team and how many girls, what they went through and just how hard it is to get out of that. So I'm a little bit conflicted and a little bit, I think in saying yes, it's better, but I still have to say we have a long way to go.  

And yes, if you are asking me, look, is there other cases of abuse, whether it's coaches or support staff or parents? Absolutely. I mean, have a look at the, a year ago I talked about it, I even posted on my socials the case of that 14-year-old girl that was beaten in Europe and this video of it. And no one reacted. Apparently it was circulating between coaches and parents for weeks and it wasn't the first time. And then you hear about that and see that, and then you get discouraged and you go, has anything changed?  

But look, I know that Tennis Australia now has in place some really good programmes and safeguarding. I know that they've even brought in ex policemen that have worked in that kind of domestic violence area for a very long time that are a part of it. Reporting is much better. And I know that I've had a parent come to me actually recently and we, yeah, we went to Tennis Australia. Had to go to Tennis Australia and report it and it was dealt with really, really well.  

But the only problem is that sports are so, it's worldwide. You know, you might have something like, you know, we've got footy in Australia, but tennis is something that is played in every country in the world. And you've got hundreds of governing bodies and federations. And the question is, and what I would do if I was like the top, top governing body is that every single federation, every single country has to have a policy where there is just no acceptance. That has to have really, really strict and tough laws and rules that if you are parent or a coach and you've done something, you're never allowed near a tennis court again. And unfortunately we're not seeing that in every country. That would be the case in Australia now, but not in a lot of the other countries. And they are allowed to, I personally know coaches that have not, that have done things and they are coaching again. But unfortunately it's in countries where you get away with it and there is no policies when it comes to that.  

But then you also see these recent stories of one woman in every four days. And you ask yourself that someone who just, and I feel horrible talking about it, but we have to, that beat up and raped their partner is out on bail for $600 bail. Is that what a life is worth? $600? What bail, where is he going? Where are we letting them go? So that's why I say, while I think things, some things are better, we still have a lot of work to do clearly. And I'm so glad that we're having now on a much larger scale, you know, and today what we've had meetings and that it's getting the visibility, but we need to continue it. It's still gonna be a long battle, yeah. 

Kathryn Favelle: Thank you. Thank you for your question. I think we've got time for one more and there's, oh, Karen, hello Karen.

Audience member 3: I'm a local author Jelena. So Karen Vickers. Look, even in community sport on some research that's come out of Melbourne University, they've found that 82% of people, of all sorts of different age groups reported some sort of abuse in junior sport. And one in three said that came from a parent. So how do we get to that grassroots level and start these discussions? I've written a novel that I'm gonna give you later, to try and address some of that sort of thing. But how do we get the message out right down at that level? I mean, it's horrendous what happened to you. And I've read your book and was, you know, deeply moved by it. But it's, you know, really right across the board and often parents don't even realise they're putting this pressure on their kids. And the impacts are terrible. 

Jelena Dokic: It's not a sport issue anymore. Unfortunately. This is not just sport. We used to think, oh, it was money, fame and all of this that comes with it. So that's why parents are pushing the kids. And it is to a certain degree, but we see it outside of sport. We see it all the time. I have so many women and even young women saying to me, “oh, I had the same in my home”. They didn't even play any sport or tennis. It was about something else. So this is not a sport or a money issue anymore.  

And the figures that are coming out, it's a violence issue, right? So the numbers that have just recently come out is that two at minimum, and this is what we know that is reported a lot is not reported because of that fear. Two out of five women or girls and women over 15 will at some stage in their life be physically or sexually abused. That is horrific. Apparently they're saying the actual number is anywhere from three to four women. So it's not a sport issue, it's a society issue, it's a cultural issue. This, you know, gender violence and violence towards women is a much, much bigger problem.  

I think that for me, I don't think that, to be honest with you, that the accountability, and I don't like to use the word punishment, but it kind of is when you do something like this and we have such horrible killings and the murder of women and girls, is that the punishment is not harsh enough and holding them accountable. I kind of feel like it's even less than if you were actually, you know, would, I don't know, just if you murdered someone or if it was, I don't know, home invasion and something happened. I feel like you're less responsible if you do something to a woman, to a partner, to a child. I also think that we are at a stage where we cannot go, “oh, but my son is not like that”. I think we're way past that. And you have to really, I think parents and schools and sports from a young age, and I would make this mandatory, you have to have a subject at school that talks about violence, domestic violence, and the way that men treat women. We are way past knowing and having geography. Great. I'm all for it. I was good at geography too, to know where, where South America is, I'm sorry, not as important as is a woman going to be murdered every four days. I think we are at that stage. And by the way, Australia, even with those numbers, which is unbelievable, horrific and it's a joke, that we are ahead of the curve in the rest of the world. It's worse. I have people writing to me from Eastern Europe, from South Africa where the numbers are 10 times worse and we are way past going, “oh, my son wouldn't do that”.  

I did a bit of coaching when I went into commentary actually, and I got my coaching degree because I wasn't sure what I was going to do. And I did a bit of coaching with kids and I did also squads and camps. You would be shocked at the amount of boys that would push girls to get in line to get their next shot, next hit, right? And I'm someone that obviously that does not, that will not happen on my court. The girls would accept it. They would feel, you know, especially if the boy's a bit stronger and older and taller and it was normal. And I'm shocked by that, 2023, 2024. And I can't believe we still have that. I would always call it out and the boys would be so angry with me. And I would even get these kind of little dirty looks from nine year olds and I could see that they are shocked by that. And that tells me that they are getting away with it at school or maybe even at home. And it's not good enough.  

And as much as it's so many parents, “it's not my son, it's not my boy”. No. Have that conversation with them. But we need to have that conversation at home and we need to have it all the time. We need to have it at school, sport. Kids start sport, you've got kids now playing four year, I have 4-year-old kids coming to tennis and to squads. They're very cute, their rackets are bigger than them. But let's, no, but let's have it as part of that conversation, you know, the same way we make them, okay, you gotta pick up 10 balls on your racket and we're teaching them to swipe the clay court after, you know, after you play. And that it's part of respecting the sport and the next people that are coming, this has to be a part of it. We are way past going, “oh, my son wouldn't do that”. Or “of course my son knows not to do that”. You have no idea what's going on. And don't forget that those same boys go to school with other boys and you don't know they're around. There's peer pressure. And if he's friends with other two, three boys that think differently, he might feel like, “look, I'm not going to call out something later on because I'll be the odd one out, it would be pressure”. You just have no idea.  

And look, I do a lot of talks. Public speaking is now a massive part of what I do together with commentary and books and everything. I've done a lot of work now with schools and the first thing, the first thing that teachers and principals tell me is that 90% of boys now at schools and their role model is Andrew Tate. I don't think I need to say anything else, right?  

So I'm sorry, but we need a cultural change. This is not a sport thing anymore as well. We need a complete change in the way that we raise our boys and what we show them and what we teach them. This needs to be a part of education now. It has to be. And yeah, sorry, I'm getting really into it, but I feel very passionately about it because, you know, I woke up again today to a 19-year-old girl that was killed by her by a 31-year-old male as well. I mean it's just, it's horrific and like yeah, it's just you just, it's, I dunno, I just, I get kind of really, I don't like to use that word angry and be really, but I am. And again, I'm not nothing against like men that are amazing. I will say it again, I know so many incredible men. I mean, I don't like to say what if or I wish, tell you what, I wish everyone had a father like Todd Woodbridge and a man in their life like Todd Woodbridge and I've seen him also with his kids as well and everything. Like everyone you know, should be so lucky. And I am like, I am not someone that's against men at all. In fact, the opposite. I even like to have those conversations and let's go, let's go, everyone make a change and make a difference. And the men that are against that violence against women, good on you. Like I applaud you, thank you for that.  

But the numbers are not good. It's as simple as that. And if you get a room of a hundred men or a hundred boys, the statistics are telling us that a lot of them are okay with the way or abusive ways towards women. And we can't say anymore “no, that's not true”. It is true. We're seeing it. The numbers are showing us that it's not anymore. Ah, maybe a room of, I don't know, 10,000 men, you might get it. No, it's not. A room of a hundred men and boys will have those that are okay with abuse towards women and very, and actually a lot of violence towards women and that it's okay. So we need to, we need a complete overhaul of everything we do and what we do in culture from when boys are very, very young. It's not normal anymore. Ah, just because maybe I wouldn't treat a woman like that. No, we need to have those conversations. It needs to be a given. 

Kathryn Favelle: I think Jelena, you've just shown us the power of your voice. 

Jelena Dokic: Sorry, sorry. 

Kathryn Favelle: It's a wonderful thing to behold. 

Jelena Dokic: Thank you. Thank you for your patience with that. If the answers were long. But I just feel like every, I just don't know how that can happen and what anyone's life is worth. And I know that also people will often say to me, it's men as well. Yeah, it is. But absolutely. And I'm against violence against anyone, but that will also be men killing women as well. Men as well. So I just think, yeah, it's time to kind of get a lot of people's heads out of, you know, out of hiding away from that. And let's just admit we've got a problem and let's try and solve it, and solve it together.  

I'm not, this is not a women's problem. This is all of us together. This is a men's problem. Let's all get on board, and I hate this division. I hate it in sport as well when we've got different tours and all this thing. And I think it creates division from the beginning. And I grew up in a culture, for example, that really is okay with women's violence and that is why my, you know, my father was like that and I was almost beaten to death. And I was lucky, to be honest with you. I was lucky, I was. And maybe if I actually didn't escape home when I did, who knows if I would be here today. But it also leaves horrific, even if you survive the actual violence and you leave and you somehow manage to get away, let's say even from your parent or your partner, it leaves you with horrific consequences and mental health illnesses and trauma. And then who knows if you're gonna survive that. 

Kathryn Favelle: I'm going to give Jelena the last word, but before I do-- 

Jelena Dokic: Please don't. 

Kathryn Favelle: No, I am, I'd like to thank her publisher, Penguin Random House for making this evening possible and for also supporting Australians to tell our stories and share our stories with people around the world. Our publishers do a great job of sharing Australian stories.  

I'd also like to invite you to our next event, which is another story of resilience and grace from a powerful woman. On the 15th of May, we'll be launching a new edition of “If Everyone Cared Enough”, the 1977 autobiography of Margaret Tucker, MBE, a trailblazing Aboriginal Australian author, activist, and advocate. And this new edition, which has been published by National Library of Australia Publishing, presents Margaret's story as she originally wrote it, based on the handwritten manuscript that we have here in the National Library's collection.  

We're going to go upstairs and Jelena will sign books and our friends at Bookplate are also open, if you'd like to have some refreshment. But before we go, Jelena, “Fearless” concludes with the most beautiful letter of hope. So I'd like to ask you, what do you hope for next? 

Jelena Dokic: Oh, well, I'm kind of, I am very competitive. I am very, I like to challenge myself. So yeah, I'm kind of just in a way, to be honest with you, winging it, because if you, like I said, if you told me 10 years ago I would be here, I wouldn't have believed it. And I have still quite a few goals I want to accomplish. And yeah, definitely more books are on the way. I did my first TEDx talk at the end of last year. I hope to do more. That's really all from kind of a professional perspective. I hope to continue to be in commentary and on TV screens. That's something I absolutely love and it's a passion of mine.  

But even more than that, you know, it's a big goal of mine to be able to make a difference, even on a bigger scale than let's say, speaking up and my books and we'll see what's next and how I get involved in projects and maybe some governing bodies and charity organisations and things like that.  

But yeah, ultimately it's just a day at a time, you know, continuing to be, you know, for me, happiness is, and having that joy and living that kind of life is massive. And yeah, trying to build that circle around me of really amazing people. I hope to be able to be able to do that, but also provide that for others. So yeah, we'll see what's next. I've kind of stopped making massive plans because I am enjoying myself so much for the first time in my life. I can truly say that I'm really happy, that I'm in such a great place. I've learned so much. I can really say that I haven't just survived, but I've thrived. So it's almost, for me, a little bit scary to be where I am after so many years. And I lived in fear for so many years of thinking, oh, something always bad's gonna happen and come around the corner. So I live kind of a day at a time. I think that's the best way to do it, you know. I especially, I'm 41 now, I'm not 25 anymore, and it's all about joy. And yeah, just doing things that I really enjoy, enjoy doing, and we'll see what's next. And I know that still life might not be, you know, great all the time for the rest of my life. And I will try to do my best to still get through the difficult times the best way that I possibly can.  

But look, I say this a lot now, I know I can't change the world. There's eight billion people, but if I can maybe, I don't know, do that a couple times a year, change someone's world and help someone, then I'm the happiest person in the world. That's the most important thing to me.  

And I actually, I have to say, I'm sorry, I hope you don't mind this and to do it publicly like this, but I started crying because the first thing I associated with you and I remember is that you always used to drive us. We didn't have a car, we didn't have much. And you were so helpful and always there for us. And we used to hit and practise all the time, and you were such an unbelievable, just like, man, you know, family, girl, everything. But yeah, I wasn't allowed to be in contact with people like that. And then that continued later. And I even talk about that in “Unbreakable” with a lot of people, like some of my coaches and Tony Roach as well. And the way that my father treated them, and then I had to treat them. If I didn't, I would get beaten at home if I didn't treat people the way that, or badly or fire my coaches. And for not just years, but even decades, I couldn't go back to those people. And I just, all I wanted to say was sorry, even though I was a child, and you just took me to that time because you were such an unbelievable man and a family and person and straight away when I saw you and I just remembered you always driving us because we didn't have much or to the train station or tournament. So I just wanted to thank you for that because I remember that.  

So that's why I spread the message of kindness so much that it can literally change lives. And I was, you know, 12, 13, 14, this is now 25, 26, 27 years ago. And I remember that amazing person you were. And that's what he does. So if I can end on that. Let’s end on kindness. 

Kathryn Favelle: And ending on kindness. Let's head upstairs for book signings. Possibly a few cuddles, a few more tears. Thank you all for this evening. 

Jelena Dokic: Thank you. 

Listen to tennis commentator and former World No. 4 player Jelena Dokic discuss her latest book Fearless with Kathryn Favelle, Director of Reader Services at the National Library of Australia.

This event includes discussions about mental health topics and domestic abuse. If you or anyone you know needs support, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

About Jelena Dokic

In 2017, Jelena Dokic made international headlines with the release of her bestselling memoir, Unbreakable. Years of shocking abuse at the hands of her father – physical, emotional and financial – were revealed by the former tennis World No. 4.

Fearless, Jelena’s second book, shares the impact her formative years have had on her, and her refusal to be defined by her trauma – she is determined to grow, be stronger and wiser because of it, and wants to help others who may also be suffering. Not only did she escape a war, lived as a refugee — twice — was subject to bullying, and suffer immense abuse at the hands of her father, she did so while training to be a tennis champion. Jelena suffered in silence for years, and it wasn’t until Unbreakable was released that she was able to unburden her secrets.

Fearless is about reclaiming life and the power of sharing our stories. It is about having the strength to stand up for what you believe in, and being strong enough to ask for help when it is needed. Fearless is about starting at the bottom and building yourself back up and getting through the devastating moments in life. The past years have taught Jelena Dokic many tough and important lessons, and now she is ready to share them to help others find their voice and the power to thrive.