Tennis: Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis before US Open

Caroline Wozniacki in action against Elina Svitolina.
Caroline Wozniacki in action against Elina Svitolina.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - Outgoing WTA Finals champion Caroline Wozniacki revealed on Thursday (Oct 25) that she has rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that attacks the joints.

Speaking to the press after a 5-7, 7-5, 6-3 loss to Ukraine's Elina Svitolina that ended her Singapore campaign, she recalled waking up during the Rogers Cup in Montreal in August unable to lift her arms, and was later diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis before the Aug 27-Sept 9 US Open.

The 28-year-old Dane, who won her third title of the year at this month's China Open in Beijing, said: "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.

"It is what it is, and you just have to be positive and work with it, and there are ways that you can feel better so that's great."

While the Australian Open champion acknowledged it was not ideal for anybody, much less a professional athlete, she did not sound worried about its impact on her career.

"At the end of the day, you find a plan, figure out what to do, you do your research, and thankfully there are great things now that you can do about it," said Wozniacki.

"You just kind of move on from it and figure out how to deal with 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.

"The medicine now is so amazing, so I'm not worried about it."

She added: "Winning in Beijing 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 know there are a lot of people in the world who are fighting with this and, hopefully, I can be someone they look up to and say if I can do this, then they can, too."