Singapore | Wozniacki out and then reveals diagnosis
Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki narrowly missed the cut by losing in three sets to the Ukrainian Elina Svitolina and later announced she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, an auto-immune disease, just before the US Open earlier this summer, but managed to play through the pain barrier.
In the beginning, it was a shock. It’s obviously not ideal for anybody – particularly when you’re a professional athlete, Caroline Wozniacki
The former World No 1 began her year with her maiden Grand Slam title, when she won the Australian Open, before her season ended with her defeat to Svitolina on Thursday.
She will now use the off-season to plan how to manage the illness, which causes swelling of the joints and fatigue.
“I didn’t want to talk about it during the year because I didn’t want to give anyone the edge or anyone thinking that I’m not feeling well, because I have been feeling well,” she told the media in Singapore.
Wozniacki first began to notice fatigue after Wimbledon in July when she woke up and was unable to lift her arms over her head.
“In the beginning, it was a shock. It’s obviously not ideal for anybody – particularly when you’re a professional athlete,” she said.
“You feel like you’re the fittest athlete out there, or that’s in my head, that’s what I’m known for, and all of a sudden you have this to deal with.
“You learn how to cope after matches. Some days you wake up and you can’t get out of bed and you just have to know that’s how it is, but other days you’re fine. You don’t even feel like you have it.”
Ultimately, Wozniacki wants to become a role model for other people living with the pain of rheumatoid arthritis, which rarely strikes people before their 40s.
“I know there are a lot of people in the world fighting with this, and hopefully I can be someone they can look up to and say that if I can do this, then they can too,” she said.
“Some people can go into remission and some people it just stops, the disease, and it’s just right there and it’s not going to get worse, or if it does, it’s slowly.
“The medicine now is so amazing so I’m not worried about it. So that’s great. You just have to be aware.”
Wozniacki did suffer a drop in form after her diagnosis, but bounced back in some style to win the China Open in Beijing earlier this month ahead of Singapore.