Venus Williams has been named World’s Number One by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) on three separate occasions, won 20 Grand Slam titles, three Olympic gold medals and is the reigning champion at Wimbledon and the US Open.
She had risen to number one at the age of 21 following her triumph at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2000 and 2001 and, perhaps consequently, began to suffer from various injuries. Recurring wrist problems prevented Williams from competing on several occasions between 2003 and 2006 and she finished as World No. 46 at the end of that year – her lowest since she began competing in 1997.
The star first began to suffer from anemia at the height of her career and had to drop out of the Chase Championships in 2000. In September 2007, she once again seemed to be far from top form.
The problems came to a head when Williams made a straight-sets loss to Justine Henin. Cameras captured the 29-year-old looking exhausted and sluggish, as well as making an unusually high amount of errors during matches.
According to the Observer, the star reported dizziness, nausea and lack of energy – all common symptoms of anemia, a disorder associated with an insufficient amount of red blood cells in the body.
Her worried mother, Oracene Price, later told reporters that her daughter had been diagnosed with anemia previously:
“She was happy when she found out she had anemia and she thought that was it. Now there’s something else wrong. We need to get this checked out.”
According to The Times, Price commented: “Today I guess the anemia came back. Venus feels like the ground is moving beneath her feet. Things aren’t right and we have to find out what’s wrong.”
The champion was then promptly sent to The Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for extensive medical tests. She later withdrew from the year-ending WTA Tour Championships in Madrid.
The star said that she felt terrible during the match and could not remember exactly what her trainer said to her but could recall her trying to help. The Times reported:
“I was like in a zone. I was just hoping she had a magic pill. She gave me some jelly beans. I tried to eat them, but I was still feeling dizzy. It hasn’t been as much fun playing under these circumstances, because when you don’t feel good, it’s not fun. And I just want to feel good.”
Venus Williams has since recovered some of her strength and finished world number six in 2009 in singles and number three in doubles.