Women's Tennis

Venus Williams Sjogren's Syndrome: What Is It and Will This End Her Career?

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 29:  Venus Williams of the United States celebrates match point against Vesna Dolonts of Russia during Day One of the 2011 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 29, 2011 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images
Brandon GalvinFeatured ColumnistAugust 31, 2011

Venus Williams has withdrawn from the US Open after being diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome.

“’I have been recently diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome, an autoimmune disease which is an ongoing medical condition that affects my energy level and causes fatigue and joint pain," she said in a statement, according to ESPN’s Staff.

This is devastating news for the Williams family, her fans and tennis fans across the world. Tennis is one of the ultimate tests of endurance this world has to offer. It would be seemingly impossible for anybody to perform at a high level with this syndrome slowly eating away at their body during a match.

"Sjogren syndrome is an autoimmune disorder characterized by degeneration of the mucus-secreting glands, particularly the tear ducts of the eyes (lacrimal) and saliva glands of the mouth. Autoimmune disorders are caused when the body's natural defenses (antibodies, lymphocytes, etc.) against invading organisms suddenly begin to attack healthy tissue. Sjogren syndrome is also associated with inflammatory disorders such as arthritis or lupus," according to WebMD.com.

If there was ever a woman who could overcome something of this magnitude, it would be Venus. Venus and her sister Serena have overcome adversity after adversity during their careers. This is another obstacle attempting to impede her path from going down as the greatest women’s tennis player in history.

We can only hope for the sake of the sport and her well-being that a cure is out there to control this limiting disease. We need Venus back on the court as soon as possible, but not at the expense of her well-being. That is what is most important right now.

Sjogren’s Syndrome will surely shorten her career unless it can be controlled. Venus did the right thing by pulling out of the US Open. Hopefully with the right medical attention and time away from the game, Venus can come back to wow us like she always does.

Fatigue and joint pain is devastating for any person, let alone a tennis player. Still, I would expect Venus to return to the hallowed court sooner than we would ever imagine. We rarely ever see people as determined as the Williams sisters. She will prepare like a mad-woman to get into better shape to counter the disease and guarantee we have the privilege of watching her wage in battle again.

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