31-year-old tennis champion Venus Williams has had to withdraw from the U.S. Open due to illness. According to reports, the tennis ace is suffering from a disease called Sjogren’s Syndrome, which is an autoimmune ailment that causes joint pain and fatigue.

After a 2 month hiatus, Williams played her first match against Vesna Dolonts and beat her 6-4, 6-3 in the first round.

Shortly after her win, when she was asked why she had to miss tournaments this summer, she replied, “It was just energy-sucking, and I just couldn’t play pro tennis. It was disappointing, because I had huge plans for this summer, of course, to improve my ranking. To miss out on all those points was definitely devastating. Just to miss so much time off tour was just disheartening. But I’m just really excited to be back.”

Later, in a statement released via the tournament, Williams said, “I enjoyed playing my first match here, and wish I could continue but right now I am unable to. I am thankful I finally have a diagnosis and am now focused on getting better and returning to the court soon.”

The Associated Press reports:

When Williams left the site shortly before 5 p.m., wearing a white sweater and purple shorts, she was asked by reporters whether she would say anything. She smiled and waved and shook her head to indicate, “No,” then climbed into the back of a tournament transportation car and rode away.

Carlos Fleming, Venus’s agent, told reporters, “All of us came with the full expectation she’d be playing today. She was geared up to play her match. I just hope she’s OK, and I hope she’s healthy and going to be fine.”

We wish you well Venus!

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