A post-match interview at the Australian Open has seen two Australian tennis stars connect over their mutual respect for one another.
Former tennis star turned commentator Jelena Dokic interviewed Ash Barty on Monday night after Barty won the first round of her Australian Open campaign against Ukrainian qualifier Lesia Tsurenko 6-0 6-1 in under an hour on Rod Laver Arena.
Dokic became emotional as she spoke to the World No. 1, thanking her for her past wins.
“I want to first congratulate you on your Wimbledon win. I think I speak — not I think, I’m sure — I speak for everyone here, everyone in Australia, around the world, particularly myself — thank you,” Dokic said.
“You gave us so much joy watching that last year. You made us so proud. I get goosebumps right now. I just want to hug you but I can’t.”
“There are no words to describe what you’ve done so thank you for that. Now I’m going to lose all my questions.”
Barty responded by acknowledging her heritage.
“I think I’m my most comfortable self when I’m out on the court … I’m a very, very proud Indigenous woman. I love my heritage, I love to celebrate my heritage,” she said.
“It’s what connects me to all of you here today. It’s what connects me to the land.”
The heart-felt exchange between the two tennis stars caused a flood of social media responses, including tennis writer Prajwal Hegde, who tweeted:
“Jelena Dokic’s on-court interview of Ash Barty — Wimbledon, Indigenous heritage, expression — was outstanding. The world No. 1 is Australia’s and is much loved.”
Dokic has been a fan of Barty for years — last July, after Barty won Wimbledon, she made a stirring speech on Channel Nine about Barty and her family’s support.
“I just want to get this out before I fall apart. So give me 15 seconds,” Dokic said.
“I want to give a shout out to her parents, obviously Josie and Rob, because people underestimate the importance of family. She talks about that all the time.”
“And as someone who didn’t have that support, it is so important. This will set an example for parents in Australia and around the world, not just how to raise a champion but a genuinely wonderful human being.”
“This is how you support them. You don’t pressure them, you’re there for them and this is why she is there, so big shout out to them, well done.”
In her 2017 biography Unbreakable, Dokic opened up about the abuse and terror she suffered at the hands of her father while she was growing up.