x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Venus Williams vows to return to the court

The seven-time grand slam winner says she feels positive after finally being diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome.

Venus Williams is out of the US Open after being diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome.
Venus Williams is out of the US Open after being diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome.

Venus Williams says she fully expects to return to tennis despite being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that causes fatigue and led to her shocking decision to withdraw from the US Open.

"Absolutely, absolutely. The good news for me is now I know what is happening after years of not knowing. I feel like now I can move on," the seven-time grand slam winner told ABC's Good Morning America programme yesterday.

"I feel really positive about getting back on the court and at least being able to feel normal. I feel like now I can get better."

Williams withdrew from the year's final grand slam on Wednesday with Sjogren's Syndrome, a chronic disease where white blood cells attack moisture-producing glands and can cause dysfunction of organs and body systems.

The five-time Wimbledon champion, who has not won a major since winning at the All England club in 2008, said she felt some relief in finally being diagnosed so that she can now focus on getting better and resuming her career.

"The best thing that could have happened for me this summer was to feel worse so I could feel better," she said.

Williams, whose sister, Serena, is among the favourites to win this year's US Open, said her problems with fatigue had puzzled doctors for some time after initially it was felt she had a kind of asthma.

"I had trouble with stamina. I had swelling and numbness and fatigue, which was really debilitating," she said.

"I just didn't have any energy and it's not that you don't have energy; you just feel beat up."

Venus, a two-time winner at Flushing Meadows, informed officials of her withdrawal from the tournament less than an hour before she was due to face Germany's Sabine Lisicki in the second round on Wednesday.

"I had a tough practice, I was just sitting there and it was taking an effort just to lift my arms. I didn't feel like I had to put myself through that," she said.

"I just felt like, 'OK, 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? It was a tough decision, but at the same time I've had to come to accept what I'm going through."

Today's US Open coverage from 7pm on Ten Sport and Aljazeera Sport +9