An ailing Venus Williams has withdrawn from the U.S. Open due to her diagnosis of an autoimmune disorder called Sjogren’s Syndrome. She pulled out of the competition right before her second-round match against 22nd seed Sabine Lisicki.
Williams released a statement today and spoke about her illness:
“I’m really disappointed to have to withdraw from this year’s U.S. Open. I have been recently diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome, an auto-immune disease which is an ongoing medical condition that affects my energy level and causes fatigue and joint pain. I enjoyed playing my first match here and wish I could continue but right now I am unable to. I am thankful I finally have a diagnosis and am now focused on getting better and returning to the court soon.”
The autoimmune disease is similar to that of rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Normally, your immune system will protect your body from infection or viruses, but with Sjogren’s Syndrome, the system destroys ‘moisture producing glands’. There’s no real rhyme or reason how one contracts the disease, but according to several reports, a viral or bacterial infection may actually trigger it. Williams has been fighting viral infections this past summer and has not been able to compete, withdrawing from the Rogers Cup earlier this month.
While there is no cure for Sjogren’s Syndrome, measures can be taken to control the symptoms of the disease – dry eyes, dry mouth and joint pain. Eye drops will help alleviate the dry eyes and having a water bottle close by at all times will keep yourself hydrated. Taking Tylenol or Motrin will help minimize pain in the muscles or joints.
Unfortunately for the 31-year-old, 2011 has been an unhealthy one for her. She suffered a hip injury in February, withdrawing from Dubai, in March an abdominal injury forced her to pull out from Miami, in May she dropped out of Brussels, Rome, Madrid and the French Open due to an abdominal injury and earlier this month, withdrawing from Toronto and Cincinnati because of a viral infection. She has played only 11 matches this year and her ranking has fallen to 36. Let’s hope this seven time Grand Slam champ will get better soon! Wishing you a speedy recovery!