Venus Williams would certainly feature in the list of the most respected tennis players in history. Achievements and immaculate records are aspects of the game Venus has aced in throughout her career. However, beyond that, an athlete needs to provide a living example of the right spirit and hard work in order to be legitimately respected by the fans. For years, Venus has been recognized for pushing through all the limitations that encounter a woman of her racial background. She has revealed in the past how she never fit the bill of how a woman playing tennis should look like. That has often led her to face unfair criticism from a very early stage of her career.

However, we are about to give you one more reason to hold the seven-time grand slam champion in high regard. Venus Williams has suffered from a painful ailment for more than a decade. Let’s find out more about this relatively undiscussed part of her career.

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What does Venus Williams suffer from? 

Venus Williams has battled with the rare Sjögren’s syndrome since the year 2004. This is an autoimmune disorder that affects over 4 million people in the United States of America.

Even though patients suffering from it are expected to live a largely normal life, the symptoms can be pretty dangerous for an athlete. While it always involves dry eyes and dry mouth even in the mildest versions, serious cases are accompanied by fatigue, body aches, and serious muscle injuries. For Venus Williams, it was like a ticking time bomb for her career, the uncertainty of a forced retirement always hanging over her head.

 “No matter how hard I worked, I was exhausted, short of breath, and never felt in shape. It was really frustrating,” Williams told Prevention.com. “My symptoms got progressively worse, to the point where I couldn’t play professional tennis anymore.”


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Lack of diagnosis

The serious lack of information and the extremely common symptoms of the syndrome meant Venus was not diagnosed with it for a long time.


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 “Unfortunately, that’s typical of people with autoimmune disease,” she says. “They’re misdiagnosed or too sick to function. I literally had professional tennis taken away from me before I got the right diagnosis.”

“So you can imagine, it has definitely affected my game,” she says. Williams would go to her doctor presenting the symptoms, only for her doctors to find nothing wrong with her. “I felt out of control,” she says.

Curing the disease

Unfortunately, there is no cure for the disease. The most you can do is lessen the impact of the symptoms. For example, you can treat dry eyes and dry mouth with drops and ointments and painkillers can be used to deal with the muscle aches. Williams has been reliant on these medications ever since she learned of the cause behind her ailments.

“In the beginning, I just had to wait to get better,” Williams says. “One of the medications I had, took six months to set in. There was another that took one to three months. It was kind of a waiting game until you can go back to what you had been doing.”

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“Before I was on medication, the quality of my life wasn’t as good because I was extremely uncomfortable,” Williams says, reflecting on those years before her diagnosis. “Just being alive was very uncomfortable. I was exhausted to the point that I was just always uncomfortable or in pain.”

As we all know now, Venus Williams struggled through the syndrome and is still an active player. Many people have questioned her abilities from time to time. However, she has let her tennis do the talking. Venus is one of those players who become emblematic of an entire era of sports. Tennis fans will remember her with fondness long after she retires from the sport.