venus williams sjogrens syndrome Venus Williams' Sjogren's Syndrome diagnosis forces her out of U.S. Open in Round 2

Venus Williams got off to an auspicious start at the 2011 U.S. Open with her 6-4/6-3 victory over Vesna Dolonts, but by Wednesday (Aug. 31), the 31-year-old Tennis vet withdrew from tournament.

The New York Times reports that the older Williams sister dropped out just minutes before she was due on court for a second-round match against Germany’s Sabine Lisicki.

Williams’ early departure is being attributed to her recent diagnosis of Sjogren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disease. Some of the side effects which would be most detrimental to her game include fatigue and joint pain.

“I enjoyed playing my first match here,” Williams says in a statement released to the press, “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.”

Sjogren’s Syndrome, while not a career-killer, could prove to be a lot trouble for Williams. The Times spoke with Dr. Joanne F. Shen, an ophthalmologist, about the condition. (Dry eyes is one of the biggest symptoms of Sjogren’s).

“It would certainly interfere with my ability to do my job,” she says, noting the fatigue can be debilitating. “I see patients really not getting back to their previous level because of the fatigue.”

Williams entered the U.S. Open unseeded, the first time that’s happened to her since 1997. Her sister, Serena, also went on to round 2. She faces off against Michaella Krajicek Thursday (Sept. 1) morning.

Posted by:Mikey O'Connell