Venus Williams has reached the very top in every area of tennis since making her debut in 1994 at the age of 14.
But In 2011, Venus announced her withdrawal from the U.S. Open tournament after being diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome. The rare autoimmune disease that forced the tennis star out causes debilitating joint pain, swelling, numbness and fatigue.
“… I just felt like, ‘Okay, I could walk out on the court. I’m a tough woman, I’m a tough athlete, I’ve played through a lot of things.’ But what kind of match it would be?” she said. “It was a tough decision, but at the same time I’ve had to come to accept what I’m going through.”
“I think I’ve had issues with Sjogren’s for a while. It just wasn’t diagnosed,” she said according to BlackDoctor.org. “I just didn’t have any energy,” she continued. “And it’s not that you don’t have energy; you just feel beat up. The good news for me is now I know what’s happening,” adding that her doctor diagnosed her with exercise-induced asthma four years ago. But it wasn’t until this summer, when she developed more definite symptoms, that an accurate diagnosis was made.
The seven-time Grand Slam champion said she’s glad to finally have an explanation for her mysterious, debilitating symptoms.
“It’s a huge relief because as an athlete everything is physical for me — everything is being fit and being in shape,” she said. “I think the best thing that could have happened for me this summer was to feel worse so I could feel better. Sjogren’s is something you live with your whole life. I feel like I can get better and move on.”