Two-time U.S. Open champion Venus Williams withdrew from her second-round match of this year's tournament on Wednesday because of a chronic autoimmune disease which affects joints and energy level.
Just an hour before her match against 22nd seed and Wimbledon semifinalist Sabine Lisicki of Germany, Venus announced she would not be able to play further in the tournament because of her battle with Sjogren's Syndrome.
I'm really disappointed to have to withdraw from this year's US Open. I have recently been 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, Williams said.
I enjoyed playing my first match here and I 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.
As the 31-year-old American tennis star was trying to get rid of her encounters with injuries, she played in only four tournaments in the last 12 months. Before playing her first match in this year's U.S. Open, Venus had not played any match since her fourth round exit from Wimbledon.
The chronic autoimmune disease which keeps Williams away from the court makes people's WBCs (white blood cells) attack their moisture-producing glands resulting in extreme fatigue and joint pain. The attack affects major organs of the body like kidneys, lungs, gastrointestinal system, blood vessels, the central nervous system and liver.
According to sjogrens.org, on average, it takes nearly seven years to receive a diagnosis of Sjogren's syndrome. To date America has more than 4,000,000 patients suffering from Sjogren's syndrome. The disease is mostly found in women with nine out 10 patients being women.
Currently, there is no cure for Sjogren's syndrome. However, treatments may improve various symptoms and prevent complications, sjogrens.org says.
Considering the nature of this ailment, it is very hard to say whether Venus will be able to make it to the court again or not. However, top tennis players and fans are keeping fingers crossed.
Andy Roddick, who is very close to Williams family, said: I'm very concerned. If Venus isn't playing at the US Open, it's got to be something. She didn't withdraw because she's sneezing too much.