Dokic Strikes It Rich

Darren HeitnerSenior Analyst IFebruary 2, 2009

In my previous post, I pointed out that a great showing at a tennis Grand Slam can set you up for the rest of the year. In Jelena Dokic’s case, her quarterfinal showing at the Australian Open may well lead to her an assortment of riches.

In 2002, Jelena was at the top of her game, capturing two titles to add to the three she won the year before. However, by 2003, she was out of the top-100 and was on the verge of quitting the game.

She split from her coach and father Damir around that time, and the strain of the split took its toll on Dokic as she slid down the rankings. Defiant, she decided to return to Australia to resurrect her tennis career. Tennis Australia welcomed her back with open arms and was determined to help her climb back up the rankings.

Despite some mixed results early, Jelena won her way through to the 2009 Australian Open via a playoff. She entered the tournament ranked 187, climbing from the depths of women's tennis. She got no freebies or wild-cards as she earned the right to compete in tournaments she used to dominate.

Dokic powered her way over several high seeds before being narrowly defeated by finalist Dinara Safina. The Dokic-Safina match was the most watched women’s match in Australian Open history, as she captured the attention and hearts of her home fans.

Which leads to the next chapter of her life.

Jelena will re-enter the top-100 after collecting $182,500 for her finish. She was due to enter a $25,000 tournament in Country Victoria but has withdrawn in pursuit of bigger and better things.

Her agency, IMG, has fielded an abundance of offers from companies wanting to form a partnership with Dokic. Prior to the Open, Dokic had no clothes or racket sponsor, with Fila chipping in some free clothes for her to wear despite her contract with them ending in 2003.

Jelena has already added one company to her name, with discount airline Jetstar signing her to a 3 year, $1 million deal. Despite her run only ending last week, she is already appearing in TV ads for the company and will receive free flights.

As for that illustrious clothing sponsor, SFX managing director George Mimis believed if she made the final, she was in line for a package in the vicinity of seven figures, not to mention a six-figure racket deal to top it off. 

Despite this not happening, Dokic still connected with Australians, and if her results continue she may just hit these figures with bonuses included. One may think that Wilson will be her choice of racket, as it helped her to her success.

On top of these fundamental endorsements, Jelena’s management has been inundated with offers from women’s magazines offering to publish her story of coming back from the depths of depression to be a Grand Slam quarterfinalist.

One of the offers on the table was $50,000 to wear a logo of a men’s magazine, an offer that management swiftly rejected as “potentially disastrous.”

This just goes to show that a star athlete like Dokic can still be a hot commodity despite the current economic climate.