SINGAPORE — Caroline Wozniacki was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis ahead of this year’s U.S. Open, the Danish tennis player revealed at the WTA Finals on Thursday.
She made the announcement after being eliminated from the year-end competition following a 5-7, 7-5, 6-3 loss to Elina Svitolina in her third round-robin match.
“It turns out that I have an autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis, which goes in and attacks your joints,” she said. “When the body has a lot of fluids in it and you swell up, you get tired, you get exhausted, all these things.
“In the beginning, it was a shock. You feel like you’re the fittest athlete out there. That’s what I’m known for, and all of a sudden you have this to work with.”
Wozniacki, 28, won her first Grand Slam title at the 2018 Australian Open and briefly recaptured the No. 1 ranking after a six-year wait.ï¿½
After Wimbledon in July, she thought she had the flu when on vacation. When she started playing again, her legs hurt. Then, in Montreal in August, she woke up one morning and couldn’t lift her arms above her head.
Wozniacki thought she may have glandular fever, but the doctor said she was fine. However, she was certain something was wrong and went for more in-depth testing.
The former No. 1, who won her third title of the year in Beijing three weeks ago, said it was important to initially keep the diagnosis a secret.
“I didn’t want to talk about it obviously during the year because I didn’t want to give anyone the edge or thinking that I’m not feeling well,” she said. ï¿½”You learn how to just 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. I didn’t want to look it up, I didn’t want to Google it, because if you Google stuff you feel like you’re going to die,” Wozniacki added with a smile.
After the U.S. Open in September, she decided to do more research on rheumatoid arthritis and her doctor said much progress had been made in managing the disease.
“You just have to be positive and work with it, and there are ways you can feel better, so that’s great,” Wozniacki said. “It’s obviously not ideal for anybody, and, I think when you’re a professional athlete, it’s even more not ideal.
“But at the end of the day, you find a plan, figure out what to do, do your research, and thankfully there are great things now that you can do about it. I’m very proud of how I have been so positive through it all and just kind of tried to not let that hinder me.”