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Venus Williams Withdraws From Australian Open Citing Health

Venus Williams withdrew from the Australian Open a week before the start of the year’s first Grand Slam tennis tournament because of health issues.

Williams, 31, a seven-time Grand Slam singles champion and runner-up at the Australian Open in 2003, announced the decision today on her website. She also said she has “every intention to return” to the WTA tour in February.

“After several months of training and treatment, I am making steady progress to top competitive form,” Williams said. “My diet and fitness regimen have allowed me to make great strides in terms of my health, and I am very close to being ready to return.”

Williams didn’t give specifics on her condition. She has been receiving treatment for Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease that can cause fatigue and joint pain. She announced the diagnosis last year in New York at the U.S. Open, the season’s final Grand Slam tournament, withdrawing from the event after playing one match.

Williams is 100th in the WTA world rankings after being limited to four tournaments on the women’s tour last year. Her best result was at Wimbledon, where she reached the fourth round.

The Australian Open starts Jan. 16 in Melbourne.

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