Seven-time Grand Slam champion, Venus Williams, has abruptly exited the US Open, held at Flushing Meadows in New York, after a successful first round showing. She was set to take on Sabine Lisicki of Germany next.
After much speculation about her health issues by the media and an erratic schedule throughout the course of 2011, the elder Williams sister has now revealed she’s been diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome. Sjogren’s is an autoimmune disease affecting mainly women that causes fatigue and joint pain, and attacks and destroys the exocrine glands that produce tears and saliva. She was diagnosed with the disease three weeks ago.
The two-time U.S. Open winner was regretful of having to make the disappointing decision to pull out of the year’s final major tournament, but she “had a tough practice right before the match and could barely even lift her arms,” she told Elizabeth Vargas during an interview on “Good Morning America.”
“I’m really disappointed to have to withdraw from this year’s U.S. Open,” she added.
Williams, 31, pulled out of two hard-court tuneup tournaments this summer because she was not feeling well. In her first match in two months, she convincingly beat Russian, Vesna Dolonts, 6-4, 6-3 at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center on Monday, Aug. 29.
“I enjoyed playing my first match here and wish I could continue but right now I am unable to,” she said in a statement after exiting the property 30 minutes before the start of her next match. “I am thankful I finally have a diagnosis and am now focused on getting better and returning to the court soon.”
Williams shared with Vargas that “it could take up to six months for the treatment to take affect and allow her to manage the lifelong condition enough to return to tennis,” but she’s optimistic she’ll be able “to return to doing what I love, which is playing professional tennis,” she concluded.