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Venus Williams says she 'absolutely' will return

September 1, 2011 | 11:07 am

Venus

Venus Williams, who revealed Wednesday that she had been diagnosed with the autoimmune disease  Sjogren's syndrome, says she "absolutely" plans to return to tennis.

Williams withdrew from the U.S. Open before her second-round match because of the illness, which can cause fatigue and joint pain. She was slated to play Sabine Lisicki, who is a decade younger than the 31-year-old Williams.

In an interview Thursday with ABC's "Good Morning America," Williams said: “I think the best thing that could have happened for me this summer was to feel worse so I could feel better.”

Williams, who has won seven major titles including two U.S. Opens, told the New York Times that she hoped to return to the tennis court  later this month during the Asia swing of the women’s tour.

“That’s my goal,” she said. “I’m going to do the best I can.”

Dr. John FitzGerald, an assistant clinical professor of rheumatology at UCLA, told the Los Angeles Times' Diane Pucin that most Sjogren's patients have an inflammatory phase and a chronic phase.

"An athlete might see a very dramatic drop in his or her level of performance, even once the disease is under control," Matteson said. "I'd love to see her back at the top of her game, but I don't think it's a guarantee."

 MORE:

Venus Williams exits U.S. Open because of autoimmune disease

Venus Williams shakes off rust to win in first round at U.S. Open

-- Melissa Rohlin

Photo: Venus Williams. Credit: Charles Krupa / Associated Press.

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