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EXCLUSIVE: Former tennis star Jelena Dokic reveals her exciting baby plans with her partner of 17 years

''I want to raise my children very differently from how I was raised.''

By Paul Ewart
She was one of the bright stars in Australian women's tennis.
Reaching the semi-finals in Wimbledon and ranked fourth in the world, Jelena Dokic was at the top of her game.
However, a series of injuries resulted in the athlete hanging up her racket prematurely in 2014, leaving the athlete spiralling in a post-retirement limbo.
"Being an athlete going into normal life is tough," the tennis great, who is currently working as a Channel Nine commentator for the 2021 Australian Open, tells Good Health & Wellbeing.
"When you're a professional athlete, you're in this bubble that's not reality – everything is done for you, from food and exercise, to travel and management, so going back into real life was very different."
"And for me, I retired very suddenly because of an injury, so it really wasn't something I expected. I was left asking myself: 'What do I do next?' 'What do I get into?' I wasn't prepared for it, and that's where my weight gain started."
Her weight blew out to 120kg. Realising that she had to do something, the tennis pro looked for help.
She signed on with weight loss brand Jenny Craig in 2019 and at the time, lost more than 30kg.
Jelena weighed 120kg at her heaviest. Image: Supplied
She signed on with weight loss brand Jenny Craig in 2019. Image: Supplied
Just as she made an effort to shift physical weight, four years ago the Croatian-born star made a bold move to lose years of emotional weight with the publication of her 2017 memoir, Unbreakable.
Detailing the abuse that she suffered at the hands of her father from the age of six, readers were horrified to discover that while the tennis prodigy was publicly killing it on the court, in private she was regularly kicked and whipped with a leather belt.
Since the book's release, which topped the Aussie book charts, Jelena has received a flurry of support from fans, and by laying her demons to rest in its pages, she has become a champion and spokesperson for those suffering from both abuse and mental illness.
"I received so much positive feedback, it literally changed my life," she says.
"It has been incredible how many people thanked me and to realise that opening up about my story not only helped me, but also others."
Jelena has overcome so much in her life already. Image: Supplied
A couple of years on from the release of her book, Jelena wants to talk about the mental health tactics she's developed over the years to help when the black dog attacks.
"I've battled depression for more than 10 years and almost committed suicide at one stage," she says, candidly.
"So mental health is really important for me and I know my triggers. When I do get anxious or down, I take time out and focus on myself. I try to listen to what my body is telling me and that has really helped.
"But it's not about doing it perfectly every day, you might fall here and there, but you just get back up.
"The book was important to get my story out, but it was also to close that chapter. It's part of me and my story, but I'm now very much looking forward."
WATCH BELOW: The most dramatic celebrity weight loss transformations. Story continues after video.
While mental resilience proved to be her backbone during these trying times, another source of support came from Jelena's long-term partner Tin Bikic, a man who she credits for "bringing her back from the brink" and the man who has also been a rock during her recent weight loss battle.
"He's gone through so much with me," she says, smiling.
"We're a bit unusual in that we got together when we were 20, and 17 years on we're still together.''
"He's really supportive and just wants me to be healthy, for me, for us, and for our future. Throughout he has never been judgemental or critical."
Jelena and her partner Tin Bikic pictured in 2011. Image: Getty
Though the pair are now both based in Melbourne, for years they had a long-distance relationship, which saw her travelling between Australia and Serbia (Tin's home country), and now that they're finally together the loved-up couple are making plans for the future.
"Marriage is on the list," she confirms.
"And while we're not planning on having kids right now, it's one of the things that is very important."
The cute couple have been together for 17 years and plan to start a family soon. Image: Getty
"I want to raise my children very differently from how I was raised," she says, referring to the years of physical and mental abuse she endured.
"Having a family is definitely in the future."

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