When the US Open began on Monday, August 29, 2011, both Venus Williams, a two-time US Open champion, and younger sister Serena Williams, herself a three-time US Open champion, were both favorites to go deep into the tournament. Three days into the tournament, Venus Williams made an announcement that not only changed her course in the tournament, but her life as well.
On Wednesday, August 31, 2011, As I was walking inside of Arthur Ashe Stadium to see Venus Williams play Sabine Lisicki, it was announced that Venus Williams withdrew from the US Open due to injury. Following is a statement released by the US Open.
“I’m really disappointed to have to withdraw from this year’s US Open. I have been recently diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disease which is an ongoing medical condition that affects my energy levels and causes fatigue and joint pain.”
“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.”
Serena Williams played the next day, and was asked several questions about her sister’s newly detected illness. If you suspected it might serve as a source of inspiration, you would be correct. “It really wasn’t that difficult, to be honest. I mean, she wants me to do
the best; she wouldn’t want me to suffer. So now, if anything, it should motivate me more.”
Serena Williams continues to cruise through the tournament without dropping a set. She has defeated Bojana Jovanovski 6-1, 6-1, Michaella Krajicek 6-0, 6-1, Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 7-6, and Ana Ivanovic 6-3, 6-4. She will next face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on
Wednesday, September 7, 2011.
One of the other things that drives Serena Williams is her quest for perfection. After her first victory, I asked her why she would have given herself a B grade for the match. “I mean, I could’ve played more aggressive. I kind of was just out there hitting balls back.
Maybe return a little better.” When I asked her about her competitive nature and hustle during a point of the end of the match, she replied “I never give up. I never quit. I don’t like to give away things. I’ve given away enough in my life.”
While Venus vanished from the tournament with Sjogren’s Syndrome, he younger sister Serena soars. Perhaps there is the added motivation to win this one for her older sister. Perhaps she is determined to win after her own life-threatening issues earlier this year. I, like many, will continue to see if Serena soars to higher levels.