Venus Williams pulls out of U.S. Open citing autoimmune disease
Tennis pro Venus Williams advanced to the second round of the U.S. Open Monday after defeating Vesna Dolonts.
August 31st, 2011
06:42 PM ET

Venus Williams pulls out of U.S. Open citing autoimmune disease

Venus Williams withdrew from the U.S. Open before her second-round match Wednesday, citing an autoimmune disease diagnosis.

"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," the two-time U.S. Open winner said in a statement.

"I enjoyed playing my first match here 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."

Williams, 31, was scheduled to play Sabine Lisicki on Wednesday at New York's Arthur Ashe stadium, according to She advanced to the second round after defeating Vesna Dolonts on Monday, earning almost as much attention for her outfit as her game.

Sjögren's syndrome is a disease that is sometimes linked to rheumatic problems such as rheumatoid arthritis, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. It causes dryness in the mouth and eyes and may also affect joints, lungs, kidneys, blood vessels, digestive organs and nerves.

Most people who get Sjögren's syndrome are older than 40. Nine of 10 are women.

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Filed under: Sports • Tennis
soundoff (85 Responses)
  1. Esme

    Mazeman, TRouble etc. You may want to read the earlier nasty comments on this article, including that this is HIV related, how she needs to retire etc etc before you loose it in your comments here. I am white. There is no doubt racism going on in the commenting on this article ... "sadly "just saying"

    September 1, 2011 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
  2. Joan

    where inn God's name did this comment come from? Were you commenting on someone else's statement? If so, you should have clarified yourself, because you sure came off as a out of date racist who is really really ignorant. the world has no time for comments like that one.

    September 1, 2011 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
  3. Val B

    My prayers are with Venus and her family. I will also pray for those who take this opportunity to make such hurtful comments.

    September 1, 2011 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
  4. Emi

    Dear Venus: You have a supportive family – the best way to manage chronic health problems. I am over 60 and was diagnosed with Sjogrens a few years ago. If you haven't already, check out the Sjogrens Foundation. They publish a newsletter and support research.

    I never played tennis like you, but I've finally had to give it up. Knees are shot (not Sjogrens!) I do miss it. You're young...My guess is you will do well. I certainly hope so!! All my best to you.

    September 1, 2011 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
  5. M

    The cure is the Paleo diet. Simple solution.

    September 1, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ruth

    this is a real dis,it affects young n old if dx corretly.wishin Venus a well recovery as this illness never goes away,but can be managed with rest n symtoms started @18.

    September 1, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. len holliday

    This is also called Sarcoidosis. The fireman at 911 have it from the dust. Several have died. If I can help send me an e-mail at I am an expert in this disease.

    September 1, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Ice

      Absolutely false. Sjogren's syndrome is not the same as sarcoidosis. They are two clinically distinct disorders, although scientists do believe that they could share a common genetic background. I wish Venus the best. I am certain she has excellent physicians who will do everything in their power to help alleviate some of her symptoms.

      That being said, we absolutely have to invest more money in medical research of Sjogren's syndrome. It is one of the most prevalent autoimmune diseases in individuals of European ancestry, and yet it does not receive the kind of research dollars it deserves. While it is not life-threatening as some autoimmune disorders are, it can be severely debilitating. It deserves the same kind of attention as diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis for this fact alone.

      September 1, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Karen

    Venus said she was diagnosed with this disease during the summery so why did she even try to play in the US Open? She should have given that girl from russia who flew overnight to play on Monday (same day she arrived in NY).

    September 1, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. manorwoman

    I never understood why this man got to play against women in tennis to begin with.

    September 1, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mrs Clifton

    I was diagnosed with Sjogren/Scleroderma 3 yrs ago. These auto-immune disease attacks each person differently. No one gives you this sickness and you can't give it to anybody. It is your own brain's malfunction. I suffer from severe swellling and dryness. My skin has turned into old dry leather. I am fighting to keep my beautiful teeth from decay. I am being treated at the Mayo Clinic. I've gone through many different pain medications, steroids, etc. Now I'm on CelCept immune depresent. I hurt from head to toe and my hands are paralyzed and nothing helps my pain. It could be that this is the disease that killed Michael Jackson. Nothing takes the pain away unless you're in a comma which is deadly.

    September 1, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Nelson Pichardo

    Story coverage on CNN was wholly inadequate. My sister has suffered from this disorder for more than twenty years (chronic fatigue, loss of weight, mouth and eye problems, etc.) and I was very disappointed by the discussion of Sjogren's by the CNN "medical expert" Holy cow, she said disease has no cure (true of course) but then failed to mention that the level of research into finding a cure is minimal (orphan disease). Wow! An opportunity to do good for people suffering this disorder thrown away. Come on. This is a rare opportunity to educate people about this and to get some genuine funded research going!!!!!!!

    September 1, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  12. drcyn2

    PLEASE update reporters on the air – Sjogren's syndrome is pronounced "SHOW-grins"

    September 1, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mrs Clifton

    A scientist explained auto-immune diseases this way: we all have millions of different dormit diseases in our DNA. Like putting stamps over and over on a page until you can't see where the first stamps were placed. We carry dormit diseases going back to creation or evolution, whatever you believe. One slight malfunction of the brain and any one of these bad cells will be activated. Maybe the cancer cell is acticated or Sjogren, MS, etc. The brain can't distinguish good from bad cells. It just activates. Medicines may help you control the pain but not cure you.Some medicines may triger worse complications. Worse part is that you don't look sick.

    September 1, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. letsgomets2011

    Boyoboy, this must have been quite the thread before the mods deleted.:(

    All autoimmune diseases SUCK. I have Graves' Disease and it's no joy to deal with.

    Sjogren's also affects the moisture glands of the body. THink about it: perspiration is essential for homeostasis - and severe dry eyes can lead to blindness.

    September 1, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mink

    Who cares?

    September 28, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
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