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For Caroline Wozniacki, Battling Arthritis Is the New Normal

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His Friday news conference announcing his retirement, he added, “was kind of the first time I kind of came out and let everyone know how bad it’s been and tough.”

Wozniacki was the same way. She knew before last year’s United States Open that the flulike symptoms that had plagued her all summer were, in fact, signs of something more serious. But she said nothing about her condition for two months, waiting until the news conference after her final match of the season, in Singapore in October, to reveal the diagnosis.

“I didn’t want to give anyone the edge,” Wozniacki said.

She rejected the notion that a full disclosure of her health woes would have benefited her by moderating external expectations.

“I think because I’m such a competitor, I don’t want anything to be an excuse,” Wozniacki said, adding, “I know myself and what I’ve done out there. I’m either proud of myself for giving it my all or I can be disappointed because I thought I could do better but I don’t really need the sympathy.”

Wozniacki followed her Australian Open title with two more victories, in a pre-Wimbledon tuneup at Eastbourne in June and a Premier Mandatory event in Beijing in October — both, she said, while exhibiting one or more of the textbook symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. The Beijing win was especially satisfying, Wozniacki said, “because I didn’t know, will I ever be able to play six matches in a row? That really gave me the confidence, you know, if I can do this I can do anything.”

After Wimbledon, where Wozniacki lost in the second round, the rest of her summer passed in a fog of inconclusive doctor visits and inexplicable early-round losses. Wozniacki withdrew from the tournament in Washington because of pain in her knees. In her next tournament, in Montreal, she lost to Aryna Sabalenka in her first match and awoke the next morning unable to lift her arms to brush her teeth. From there, it was on to Cincinnati, where she retired after the first set of her first match because she couldn’t find the energy to soldier on.

Everywhere Wozniacki went, she saw doctors, she said, who proclaimed her fit and sent her away with medication for a head cold or influenza.


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