withdrew from the US Open after revealing she has been suffering with Sjögren's Syndrome, an autoimmune disease where the bodies' white blood cells attack the glands that produce moisture. There is no cure.
She released the following statement:
"I'm really disappointed to have to withdraw from this year's US Open. I have been recently diagnosed with Sjögren's Syndrome, an autoimmune disease which is an ongoing medical condition that affects my energy level and causes fatigue and joint pain. I enjoyed playing my first match 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 7-time Grand Slammer was asked about the illness after winning her opening round match and described it as "energy sapping" but didn't give a name to it. Her next opponent, Sabine Lisicki, was told about the withdrawal 30 minutes before their second round match was to begin today. "I saw Venus and heard she practiced as usual. I saw her in match
clothes so was fully prepared and really looking forward to the match. I
love those big matches and playing against Venus - we had two amazing
matches the last two meetings. But that's tennis. It's unfortunate and I
hope she will be fine quick."
The Williams sisters have been notoriously private about injuries and illness over the years but have opened up lately, most notably with Serena's recent health scares. And while this news comes as a surprise to us (and some in her close knit circle) it has been an issue according to her mom and coach, Oracene Price, who told SI.com, "It's been something that's been worrisome for a long time."
At this point, no one knows when V will come back. Some are even questioning whether she will at all considering her age, litany of injuries and the unknowns surrounding the management of this disease. There's no doubt that if she tries, and my gut tells me she will, it'll be a tough road back. But as we've seen over the years, when it comes to the Williams sisters they love a good comeback.
[Photo(s) credit: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images]