When it comes to women’s tennis, Venus Williams has blazed new trails. Tennis was played very differently when she and her sister, Serena Williams, first arrived on the scene. They brought their own brand of athleticism and strength to the women’s game.
Venus is one of the most accomplished tennis players of all time, having won the singles and doubles titles. She has 49 WTA singles titles to her name, including seven Grand Slam singles wins.
The American star has an auto-immune illness, which makes her longevity on the WTA tour all the more remarkable.
The elder Williams sister has Sjogren’s syndrome, a disorder that affects around 4 million people in the United States each year.
Venus Williams’ Battle with The Disease
Venus Williams first noticed indications of the condition in 2004, while she was at the pinnacle of her career. Among the symptoms were weariness and shortness of breath.
Venus opened up about how she was eventually diagnosed with cancer in a candid interview with Prevention. “My symptoms got worse and worse till I couldn’t play professional tennis anymore,” she recounted.
It took a long time for symptoms to appear for the disease to be recognized, as is typical of persons who suffer from autoimmune diseases.
“Unfortunately, that is typical among autoimmune illness patients,” she noted. “They’ve been misdiagnosed or are too unwell to work. Before I obtained the appropriate diagnosis, I had my professional tennis career snatched away from me.”
Sjogren’s syndrome was ultimately discovered in 2011. Venus said that she had been feeling out of control, but that the diagnosis had brought her some relief. However, it was discouraging to learn that there was no solution and that this would be a long-term issue that would impede her capacity to perform better on the court.
What Is Sjogren’s Disease?
Sjorgen’s is an autoimmune condition with dry ice and dry mouth being the most typical symptoms. Muscle and joint discomfort, as well as inflammation of key organs, are common symptoms in patients with this condition.
Fatigue is a typical condition associated with this syndrome, and when it begins to interfere with everyday life, a patient seeks care.
How Does Venus Deal with Her Disease?
Venus was diagnosed with breast cancer just before her second-round match against Sabine Lisicki at the 2011 US Open. She withdrew from the competition, marking the first time in a year that she had failed to reach the quarterfinals of any Grand Slam tournament.
For the first time since 1996, the American celebrity dropped out of the top 100 rankings as a result of her performance during the year.
Venus spoke about how she dealt with her illness. “At first, all I had to do was wait for things to improve… One of the drugs I was taking took six months to take effect. Another took one to three months. It was a bit of a waiting game until you were able to resume your previous activities.”
She’s also talked about how listening to and trusting one’s body is crucial while coping with an autoimmune disease. Venus recently opened up about her sickness in an Instagram ask-me-anything video. The seven-time major champion returned to professional tennis a year after being diagnosed, and it appears that she has handled her illness well.
“I’m continually trying new things because I’m looking for a method to feel my best.” Whether it’s as easy as drinking more water or striving to maintain a more balanced schedule (not possible).
But I prefer to live my life on my terms. And if I can’t decide, I want to pretend that I can,” she remarked in a recent video.
Prioritizing the Road to Recovery
The tennis champion was glad to finally understand what was going on with her body, but she was disappointed to find that curing the ailment would take time.
Williams withdrew from the 2011 US Open due to disease-related exhaustion, and she was dropped from the top 100 tennis players for the first time since 1996. Instead, she focused on her health.
“At first, I just had to wait for things to get better,” Williams explains. “One of the meds I was taking took six months to take effect. Another took one to three months. It was a bit of a waiting game until you were able to resume your previous activities.”
Sjögren’s syndrome is a chronic sickness that can’t be cured, although it can be managed with treatment. Sjogren’s syndrome treatment, according to Dr. Marchetta, is tailored to the patient’s individual collection of symptoms.
“Eye dryness can be treated with eye drops, ointment, or an anti-inflammatory medication recommended by an ophthalmologist. There is also medicine that stimulates saliva production.”
“Before I was on medicine, the quality of my life wasn’t as good because I was incredibly uncomfortable,” Williams recalls of the years leading up to her diagnosis.
“It was a struggle just to stay alive. I was fatigued to the point where I was constantly uneasy or in discomfort.”
Williams attempted to improve her rehabilitation in addition to treatment by adopting a vegan diet, which she still maintains today.
According to Dr. Marchetta, “lifestyle improvements like exercise, a healthy diet, and good sleeping habits might help someone with autoimmune illness feel better.”
Williams’ breakfasts normally consist of smoothies and fruit because she’s “not a big eater in the mornings,” but they get her through practice until she has a lunch and dinner full of protein, carbs, and vegetables.
“I’ll eat a little more in the days leading up to a big game or for supper, and I’ll occasionally indulge in some sweets. I’m just a regular guy!”