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Venus Williams won the Luxembourg Open after beating Monica Niculescu on Sunday.
Venus Williams won the Luxembourg Open after beating Monica Niculescu on Sunday.

Venus Williams' victory over illness is commendable

It was a delight to see the former world No 1 return after suffering from Sjogren's syndrome to win her 44th singles title.

After two years of struggle with injuries and an incurable autoimmune disease, Venus Williams has just added a 44th singles title to her impressive collection that includes seven grand slams.

The 32-year-old American's triumph over Monica Niculescu in the Luxembourg Open final on Sunday is her first tournament win since Dubai and Acapulco in February 2010. She missed the second half of that year with a knee injury. Hip and abdominal injuries followed.

Then came the particularly dire news as she pulled out of the US Open last year, hours before her second-round match: Williams was diagnosed with Sjogren's syndrome, an energy-sapping disease. It forced her to take a seven-month break during which, on days, she struggled to climb out of bed.

On some days, she experienced severe pain in her joints, and just moving required a great effort.

"My biggest challenge? Learning how to live like this," she said at the French Open earlier this year.

Slowly, but surely, she is doing that. She pushed her WTA ranking back up to 41, after the victory in Luxembourg, which was only her 11th tournament in the past year and first since the US Open.

It has certainly not been easy, but like with most challenges she has faced in the past, the elder Williams sister has overcome this one as well.

Her fans will now be wishing her a healthy 2013.

arizvi@thenational.ae

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