Singapore - World number three Caroline Wozniacki said she hopes
to become an inspiration for fellow sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis as her
shock diagnosis drew support and sympathy on Friday.
The 28-year-old Dane revealed she was suffering from the
condition after crashing out of the WTA Finals against Elina Svitolina late on
Thursday, ending her title defence.
The reigning Australian Open champion and former world
number one has since received a flood of supportive messages and well wishes on
Wozniacki was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease, which
causes swelling of the joints and fatigue, before the US Open. She said she
felt unwell after Wimbledon, before waking up during the Rogers Cup in August
unable to lift her arms.
"I thought it was just the flu," she told
journalists in Singapore. "After the US Open, I just kind of had to figure
out what really was going on.
"So that's when I really figured it out. I went to see
one of the best doctors there is and start treatment.
"In the beginning, it was a shock. You feel like you're
the fittest athlete out there... and all of a sudden you have this to work
with. It is what it is, and you just have to be positive."
Wozniacki said the illness required daily management, and
that there were some days when she struggles to get out of bed.
"It's a lifetime thing. It's not something that just
goes away," she said. "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're fine."
Having wrapped up her season, which included a breakthrough
Grand Slam title in Melbourne, Wozniacki said she would now learn more about
rheumatoid arthritis and how to manage it.
"I caught it somewhat early, so that's great," she
said. "You find a plan, figure out what to do, do your research, and
thankfully there are great things now that you can do about it."
Wozniacki hoped to become a role model for those with the
condition. "I know there are a lot of people in the world that are
fighting with this," she said.
"Hopefully I can be someone they can look up to and say
if I can do this, then they can too.
"And you just kind of have to get together and pull
each other up."