Venus Williams pulls out of US Open with illness

By the Associated Press | August 31, 2011 | 4:55 PM EDT

Venus Williams, of the United States, pumps her first after defeating Vesna Dolonts, of Russia, 6-4, 6-3 during the first round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Monday, Aug. 29, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

NEW YORK (AP) — Venus Williams says she has been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that causes fatigue and joint pain and forced her to withdraw from the U.S. Open.

The two-time champion pulled out Wednesday before her second-round match.

"I have been recently diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome, an autoimmune disease which is an ongoing medical condition that affects my energy level and causes fatigue and joint pain," she said in a statement.

The 31-year-old Williams pulled out of two hard-court tuneup tournaments this summer because she was not feeling well. In her first match in two months, Williams beat Vesna Dolonts 6-4, 6-3 at Flushing Meadows on Monday.

"I enjoyed playing my first match here and wish I could continue but right now I am unable to," she said. "I am thankful I finally have a diagnosis and am now focused on getting better and returning to the court soon."

Williams was supposed to play 22nd-seeded Sabine Lisicki on Wednesday.

"I'm really disappointed to have to withdraw from this year's US Open," she added.