Venus Williams' struggle with the autoimmune disease Sjogren's syndrome has forced her to pull out of the year's first major tournament. The seven-time Grand Slam winner has announced that she's pulling out of the Australian Open, but she hopes to be back in action next month, the AP reports. The 31-year-old revealed that she had been diagnosed with the disease after pulling out of the US Open last August. She hasn't played competitively since.
Williams was "very disappointed" to be missing the Australian Open, the tournament's director says. "She had hoped she'd be further along in her preparation but is not quite ready for Grand Slam competition," he says. "She's an amazing champion and she's had a tough year battling illness and injury. We wish her all the best and look forward to seeing her back in Australia soon." Her younger sister Serena, who recently admitted she doesn't love tennis, sprained her ankle at a tournament in Brisbane this month and may also miss the Australian Open. (Read more Australian Open stories.)