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Caroline Wozniacki battling with rheumatoid arthritis: World No. 3 has been diagnosed with the auto-immune condition since August

Leye Aduloju in WTA Tour 26 Oct 2018
  • Caroline Wozniacki has revealed that she has been diagnosed with the auto-immune condition, rheumatoid arthritis
  • Wozniacki's 2018 season came to a close following a three-set loss to Elina Svitolina in her final round-robin match at the WTA Finals
Caroline Wozniacki. (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

World number three, Caroline Wozniacki has revealed that she has been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, an auto-immune condition that causes pain, swelling and stiffness of the joints.

Wozniacki made this revelation following a 5-7 7-5 6-3 loss to Elina Svotlina at the WTA Finals in Singapore on Thursday, a defeat which brought an end to her 2018 season.

The Australian Open champion, who was diagnosed in August, said she struggled to come to terms with the problem and kept mute about the condition as she didn’t want to give her opponents a psychological advantage, thinking that she was not feeling well.

"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", she said. "I think I didn't want to talk about it during the year because I don't want to give anyone the edge or thinking that I'm not feeling well, but I have been feeling well".

Wozniacki spoke at length about her condition  in Singapore, saying that she first noticed symptoms after Wimbledon, and at times, had struggled to get out of bed.

"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 live and you're fine. You don't even feel like you have it."

Wozniacki had made an excellent start to the 2018 season, kicking on from her WTA Finals success from the previous year by reaching the final in Auckland and claiming her first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open. 

Caroline Wozniacki won the Australian Open title in January. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
She returned to No. 1 in the world following her Melbourne success. While she won two other titles in 2018- in Eastbourne and Beijing, the Dane didn't quite have her trademark consistency, as she made just one other semi-final, in Doha, outside those three titles. She particularly struggled after Wimbledon, winning just two matches in her next five tournaments- a run of form which is almost alien to the former world number one. As it has turned out, the Dane had been struggling, both mentally and physically, from the arthritis diagnosis.

"After Wimbledon I wasn't feeling well. I thought it was just the flu. I was on vacation and I wasn't feeling good. I was like, you know, 'It's fine. I'm going to get over it'..." 

"I go to Washington. Knees are hurting, my leg is hurting. I'm like, 'OK, well, just move on'..." .

"I play in Montreal, and something still doesn't feel right. I wake up and I can't lift my arms over my head. I don't really know what it is. I go to the doctor and they tell me everything is fine but I know that I'm not fine".

"It turns out that I have an autoimmune disease, which is rheumatoid arthritis, which goes in and attacks your joints."

Arthritis commonly starts between ages 40 and 50, but it can occur at any age. While there is no known cure for the problem, there are medications and treatments that can control the symptoms.

Wozniacki has been taking those medications, and she is convinced that the condition will not affect her career. After her lean post-Wimbledon spell, the 28-year-old rebounded into form in  Beijing, producing an emphatic week to claim the Premier Mandatory title without dropping a set. 

"I think [winning in Beijing] meant so much to me," she continued. "I think you obviously start asking yourself questions: What does this mean? Does it mean I can't get in as great of shape as I was before?"

"Winning was huge. It also gave me the belief that nothing is going to set me back. I'm going to work with this and this is how it is, and I can do anything... 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".

Wozniacki wants to use herself as a reference point to other people living with arthritis, that life definitely goes despite the condition. She has done a great job at that in the last month, winning Beijing and battling till the end in Singapore.

She lost two of her three matches at the WTA Finals, but that wasn't exactly because she played badly. She was beaten by an excellent Karolina Pliskova in her first match, outlasted Petra Kvitova in her second match before falling to another inspired opponent, Elina Svotlina in her third and final match.

"I know there are a lot of people in the world that are 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. And you just kind of have to get together and pull each other up."

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Caroline Wozniacki battling with rheumatoid arthritis: World No. 3 has been diagnosed with the auto-immune condition since August

Caroline Wozniacki has revealed that she is battling with rheumatoid arthritis.

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