On Thursday evening, Caroline Wozniacki revealed that she is suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. The announcement comes after a tough loss to Elina Svitolina, ending her year on a sour note. Despite her reassurance, the disorder gets worse with age, therefore it could potentially force the Dane into early retirement.
About rheumatoid arthritis
It is a long-term condition that causes pain and stiffness in the joints. Not only does it cause pain, but it can also cause fatigue and tiredness–which is a terrible situation for a tennis player. The immune system attacking healthy tissue causes the autoimmune condition, although the reason for this is still unsure. Wozniacki takes DMARD drugs and receives constant treatment in order to combat the disease; she remains positive that she will not be impacted. However, living with it can be extremely difficult, as it can flare up at any time and is unpredictable. The World #3 withdrew against Bertens in Cincinnati earlier this year because of rheumatoid arthritis, and considering the nature of it, it is highly likely that we will see many more retirements.
Wozniacki’s results since her diagnosis
The Dane was diagnosed just after Cincinnati. Since then, she has struggled to find her form and lost many more matches than expected. She started off with a disappointing second round loss to Tsurenko in New York–one of her favourite tournaments. Wozniacki continued with a first round loss in Tokyo and a straight sets loss in the second round of Wuhan. By this point, it was clear something was wrong. She had been one of the most consistent players on tour since 2016 and finally won a Slam earlier this year.
Things finally looked right for her, as she rebounded to win the China Open without dropping a set. This gave her lots of confidence, as it allowed her to realzse that she can still win tournaments despite the setback. Going into Singapore, she was one of the favorites to win and defend her title. However, things didn’t go to plan for Wozniacki as she lost to both Karolina Pliskova and Svitolina, meaning she couldn’t reach the semifinals.
Although Wozniacki said she was glad that she was diagnosed early, it is still very worrying. As a defensive player, rheumatoid arthritis could mean that she will no longer be able to be the athletic player we once knew. She may not be able to run as much, which will have a massive effect on her game. Wozniacki’s future is uncertain and it’s unfortunate to see such a successful player’s career potentially cut short.