Venus Williams Overcomes Sjogren’s Syndrome For Australian Open Breakthrough
Venus Williams has overcome the effects of Sjogren’s Syndrome to reach her first Grand Slam final in eight years.
The tennis star reached the final of the Australian Open, where she lost to little sister Serena Williams in the championship match. She was first diagnosed with Sjogren’s at the 2011 US Open and many wondered if she would even be able to play professional tennis again.
Data from the Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation notes that four million Americans live with this autoimmune disorder. Symptoms include joint pain, dry mouth, fatigue and digestive problems. Ninety percent of those who have the disorder are women and there is no cure for it.
“There were days at the beginning where I did feel like I wanted to stay in bed,” she admitted to CNN. “But I don’t because it makes me anxious, I have to get to work. my motto now is that is all adds up, so if I can only do a little bit this day, it will add up, and it’s better than if I get discouraged and don’t do anything. That’s when I really start sliding downhill.”
To help reduce flare-ups from her condition, Williams adopted a vegan diet and a new exercise regime that focused more on stretching and mobility. Slowly but surely, she returned to the court in 2012 and finally made her breakthrough moment this week in Melbourne.
“There’s only so much you can do, so I’ve definitely had to adjust a lot. But I just see it as a challenge because in my life I’ve never been defeated by anything,” said Williams. “I’ve lost and I’ve had to learn — but I’ve never had to lay down the towel, so to speak.”