This morning the tennis Star revealed that the mystery of her lack of energy, stamina and difficulty breathing was not due to asthma as previously diagnosed but rather a disease called Sjogren’s Syndrome.
I have long been a fan of Venus Williams, both as an athlete and a woman, her class, grace, humility and authenticity have always made her a stand out, and in this situation the same is true. Even while facing the reality that she will have to learn to live with this condition that directly effects not only her life but could threaten her tennis career she has the capability to have a positive outlook, and perspective about it.
She is the embodiment of the 3 principles of this blog, Acceptance, Appreciation and Respect for one’s body. To think that she as a highly functioning physical professional can voice appreciation for the diagnosis – even with that being an incurable condition, because that means that now she can start to deal with it, is incredible. We all could learn something from the way that Venus is handling this news. My prayers are with her and her family, and I hope that she finds a balance soon so she can get back on the court serving aces and winning Grand Slams soon!!!
I think I’ve had issues with Sjogren’s for a while. It just wasn’t diagnosed,” Williams said. “The good news for me is now I know what’s happening.”
Sjogren’s is usually triggered by an infection. The symptoms vary, but usually include dryness in the mouth and eyes, joint and muscle inflammation, and fatigue.
“I had trouble with stamina,” Williams said, adding that her doctor diagnosed her with exercise-induced asthma four years ago. But it wasn’t until this summer, when she developed more definite symptoms, that an accurate diagnosis was made.
“I had swelling and numbness and fatigue, which was really debilitating. I just didn’t have any energy,” Williams said. “And it’s not that you don’t have energy; you just feel beat up.”
Deciding to drop out of the U.S. Open wasn’t easy, Williams said.
“… I just felt like, ‘Okay, 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?” she said. “It was a tough decision, but at the same time I’ve had to come to accept what I’m going through.”
Williams said she’s glad to finally have an explanation for her mysterious, debilitating symptoms.
“It’s a huge relief because as an athlete everything is physical for me — everything is being fit and being in shape,” she said. “I think the best thing that could have happened for me this summer was to feel worse so I could feel better.”
While Sjogren’s has no cure, there are treatments that make symptoms more manageable: Artificial tears and saliva stimulants can ease dryness; anti-inflammatory drugs can reduce joint and muscle inflammation; and certain drugs can help quell the overactive immune response.
“Sjogren’s is something you live with your whole life,” Williams said. “The good news for me is now I know what’s happening after spending years not knowing… I feel like I can get better and move on.”
Williams said she “absolutely” plans to return to tennis.