Tennis pro Venus Williams withdrew from the US Open on Wednesday after learning that she has Sjogren’s syndrome, a chronic autoimmune disorder that causes fatigue and joint pain.
She was supposed to face 22nd-seeded Sabine Lisicki in the second round Wednesday when she realized that her newly diagnosed condition would prevent her from moving forward.
The disease can cause arthritis and destroy the exocrine glands that produce tears and saliva. Sjogren’s affects more than 4 million Americans…a shocking ninety percent of those affected are women.
White blood cells begin attacking their moisture-producing glands, causing dry eyes, dry mouth, and can cause organ damage to the kidneys, gastrointestinal system, blood vessels, lungs, liver, pancreas and the central nervous system.
Treatment involves moisture replacement therapies such as artificial tears and prescription drugs to stimulate salivary flow. Anti-inflammatory drugs are useful to treat arthritic symptoms.
Sister Serena Williams, a 13-time Grand Slam champion, will play her second-round match Thursday.
Venus, who has been ailing for some time, doesn’t consider this a career ending situation, “I am thankful that I finally have a diagnosis and am now focused on getting better and returning to the court soon.”
Check out the exclusive GMA interview below:
Photo Credit: HRC-WENN