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 over the weekend, shared an Instagram post that highlighted 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 alongside several screenshots of abusive messages comparing her to a "whale" and advising that she ought to "cut back" 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 a lot of 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 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 you that abuse me and others, are clearly not."
"What matters is your online abuse, bullying and fat shaming," she said to the critics. "That’s what matters because those of you that do it are just evil, bad, mean and ignorant people. I can and will get in shape for myself and my health but you will not become a better person."
The star went on to say that "weight will change, but evil people will remain evil."
"I am here, fighting for all those out there being abused, fat shamed," she wrote. "I can’t change the world but I am going to continue speaking up, calling this behavior out, using my platform for something good and to support other people out there and to 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 "genuinely 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 highs — including the 1999 Wimbledon quarterfinals at just 16 year old, making it to the last four at Wimbledon one year later — has been open in the past about how mental health struggles nearly led her to take her own life.
The abusive body-size messages are just the latest she's been faced with ahead of this year's Australian Open. On Friday, she revealed a disturbing message someone had written that encouraged 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 alongside a screenshot of the message. But she didn't let it get her down. Instead, she used her platform to raise the alarm on how messages like these have real-life consequences.
"Just when you think online abuse and trolling can’t get any worse," she wrote. "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?" she added. "A bad person, that’s who. And of course an ignorant one."
"I am thinking of all of those who have committed suicide, those who have wanted to, those who have lost friends and loved ones to suicide and all those struggling," she continued. "I am fighting for all of those who feel like they don’t have a voice, who don’t feel like they are being heard, for those who are struggling, for those who have struggled with suicidal thoughts, have lost loved ones and friends to suicide and I am fighting against ignorance, bad people, trolls, online abuse and disgusting human beings."
Dokic noted that so many people "are at their absolute breaking point," before encouraging her followers to "please be kind, caring and understanding."
She added, ”Sending so much love to all the good people out there and especially to all those 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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