Former U.S. Open Women’s Champion Venus Williams announced Wednesday that she will withdraw from the tournament citing Sjogren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disease that causes joint pain and fatigue among other symptoms. Venus was scheduled to compete in her second-round match against 22nd-seeded Sabine Lisicki. On Monday Venus had defeated her first-round competitor Vesna Dolonts, 6-4, 6-3. The news was rather shocking when she bowed out of the tournament after warming up on Wednesday.
This news comes at a time when many had speculated about the thirty-one year old seven-time Grand Slam Singles Titles Champion’s future. Venus Williams’ Monday debut at the U.S. Open held at Flushing, NY, was her first time on the court in two months. She was unseeded at the U.S. Open due to the fact Venus had only played in eleven matches since last year’s U.S. Open.
According to the Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation website, the disease Venus Williams was diagnosed is a chronic autoimmune illness in which people's white blood cells attack their moisture-producing glands. Common symptoms include dry eyes and dry mouth. As many as 4 million Americans have the disease. Nine out of ten patients are actually women.
When asked by the press upon completion of her match on Monday about the illness that has kept Venus Williams sidelined recently she commented, “It was just energy-sucking, and I just couldn't play pro tennis. It was disappointing, because I had huge plans for this summer, of course, to improve my ranking. To miss out on all those points was definitely devastating. Just to miss so much time off tour was just disheartening. But I'm just really excited to be back." At the time of this announcement Venus had been newly diagnosed, but she didn’t share the information until Wednesday upon pulling out of the tournament.
At present Venus Williams is hoping for a complete recovery and return to the WTA. According to the Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation website, “currently, there is no cure for Sjögren’s syndrome. However, treatments may improve various symptoms and prevent complications.” Tennis fans around the globe certainly hope Venus Williams gets the help she needs and does, indeed, walk proudly onto the courts again as a fierce competitor.