Nine commentator and former world No.4 Jelena Dokic has hit out at body shamers, revealing that she's received cruel comments about her appearance.
Dokic, a Nine expert analyst for the Australian Open, posted a lengthy Instagram message accompanying a side-by-side photo marked "pre-COVID vs now".
The former tennis star said that comments about her weight were inherently sexist and had reignited feelings of depression and anxiety. Dokic said that she had regained some weight during Melbourne's gruelling lockdown periods.
"I am sharing this with you all because even though I have the best supporters in the world that send me thousands of messages of support, I have also received a few comments body shaming me and seen an article in the media about my weight and physical appearance," Dokic wrote.
"I have always been honest with you all about my struggles and my weight battles. I have talked about my weight and not a lot of people have done that publicly.
"Now I am also going to be honest but I also feel like I need to address the negative attention around what people think I should look like. And here is my message to you, GET OVER IT. Leave me and my physical appearance alone.
"I really don't know why people and the media have the need to comment on someone's physical appearance, especially when it comes to women. You would never talk like that about a man, it's always about women and their appearance.
"While I am nowhere near my heaviest, I am also completely honest about the fact that I have put some weight back on in the Melbourne lockdown. It was very hard mentally for me in the world's toughest lockdown for 6 months and not being able to see my loved ones for 15 months.
"I have even had some depression and anxiety creep back up and it's been a battle. To all the body shamers, online trolls and the media that have body shamed me, you should be ashamed of yourselves.
"If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all. How about a bit of kindness? How about a message asking me how I am doing? Instead of talking about my weight, why don't you talk about all my accomplishments?
"Does my weight determine my worth? It's so easy to judge others but why can't people just be kind? We should be talking about inner beauty and not the shallow outside looks. Also, I could be pregnant or going thru something.
"You never know what battle someone is fighting. Put yourself in the person your insulting shoes and what they might be going thru. Imagine if it was your mother, sister or daughter being insulted. In saying that, I will continue to work hard on my fitness and my health because I want to feel better and fitter. Love you all."
Fellow ex-tennis star Mark Philippoussis offered a message of support on Dokic's post, writing: "You are a beautiful girl inside and out, do not waste your time or even think that you have to explain yourself to anyone!"
Dokic underwent a remarkable weight loss campaign in 2018-19, shedding nearly 40kg after reaching a peak of 120kg.
The former Wimbledon semi-finalist, who endured an infamously brutal upbringing and career under her father Damir, revealed in her autobiography that she had struggled with maintaining her weight after stepping away from the physical regime to which she'd always been bound in professional tennis.
"I was thrown into retirement not knowing what direction I wanted to go in," Dokic said.
"I wasn't prepared – that's where my weight gain started.
"When you're a professional athlete, you're in this bubble that's not reality – everything is done for you … training, food, travel, management, so going back into real life was very different."
Dokic is an integral part of Nine's Australian Open coverage as the tournament reaches it's climax; currently midway through the singles quarter-finals.
The former Aussie star, now 37, herself made a memorable run to the Open's final eight in 2009.
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