Last week I had the pleasure of watching Venus Williams play incredibly fantastic tennis in the US Open. It was exciting to see this world-class athlete, at 37 years old, show her competitors what a true champion looks like, in spite of having Sjögrens. It is uncanny to utter Venus Williams and Sjögrens Syndrome in the same sentence. Do I wonder how she can still be a top-level athlete and have Sjögrens Syndrome? You bet I do.
I am writing this post because many people have asked me, “Don’t you think Venus Williams is a bad role model for Sjögrens Syndrome?” And my answer is a resounding “NO”! I don’t know how she does it. She must work and focus exceptionally hard to keep her dream alive — harder than she’s ever worked before.
I do understand why people make this comment, though. Those of us who have this disease know how difficult it is to explain to our family and friends why we can’t push ourselves a little harder to join in…or even get out of bed. So many people don’t believe us when we say that Sjögrens Syndrome is a debilitating disease. And when Venus can kick ass, at 37 years old, with Sjögrens, it doesn’t really help make our case. I get it.