Venus Unveils Illness, McHale Run Continues at US Open
by Staff | August 31st, 2011, 9:02 pm

The US Open women’s draw lost a Top 10 seed to an American upstart on Wednesday, and an American veteran who dropped out of the tournament due to a frightening diagnosis.
American teen Christine McHale continued her torrid run on Wednesday, shocking No. 8 seed Marion Bartoli 7-6(2), 6-2 after earlier this summer toppling world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki and former US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.

“I just knew how to always be on my toes and ready to react to her shots because she takes the ball really early,” McHale said. “I guess it was a combination of both maybe. I started anticipating better as the match went on. Or I just reacted when I saw it, yeah.”

Former NCAA star Irina Falconi was also an American upset winner, downing No. 14 Dominika Cibulkova 2-6, 6-3, 7-5.

No. 2 seed Vera Zvonareva was another top player having a tough time Wednesday, defeating Kateryna Bondarenko 7-5, 3-6, 6-3.

“I wouldn’t say I’m pleased with the quality of tennis I showed, but I’m pleased the way I handled the match,” said Zvonareva after spraying 46 unforced errors.

Other American teens made near-statements as Coco Vandeweghe lost a tight one against No. 9 Sam Stosur 6-3, 6-4, and Madison Keys had No. 27 Lucie Safarova on the ropes before running out of gas in the end 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.

Alla Kudryavtseva benefited when No. 20 seed Yanina Wickmayer retired with a back injury trailing 6-1, 3-0.
Venus Williams shocked the tennis world with the announcement that she had been diagnosed with autoimmune disease, handing No. 22 seed Sabine Lisicki a walkover.

Diagnosed specifically with Sjogren’s Syndrome, the 31-year-old Williams described it as “an ongoing medical condition that affects my energy level and causes fatigue and joint pain.” The elder Williams sister did not officially speak with the media and quickly left the site, as her opponent Lisicki received the news as she was warming-up on a practice court.

Wednesday night’s late match featured No. 3 seed Maria Sharapova against Anastasiya Yakimova.

Highlights of matches on Thursday are Mirjana Lucic vs. (7) Francesca Schiavone, (28) Serena Williams vs. Michaella Krajicek, (1) Caroline Wozniacki vs. former junior No. 1 Arantxa Rus, (11) Jelena Jankovic vs. Jelena Dokic, (4) Victoria Azarenka vs. Gisela Dulko, (23) Shahar Peer vs. American comer Sloane Stephens, and an upset special in Alize Cornet vs. (18) Roberta Vinci.

Nice bailout from Justin Gimelstob when asked by Mary Carillo if Ryan Harrison should be fined for his behavior: “It’s not my job,” Gimelstob said when asked if any of Harrison’s racquet-throwing, ball-kicking-in-the-stands f-bomb warranted a warning. “My job is to talk about the tennis between the lines, when I get paid to be the chair umpire, I’ll determine that.” — You’re a tennis television commentator dude, what a weak bailout. Just say that you think Harrison is awesome and that he should be able to do whatever the hell he wants without getting fined…16-year-old American Madison Keys became the youngest player since 2005 to win a match at the US Open when she beat Jill Craybas in the first round…From the NY Times on David Ferrer: “When he was not focused at practice, his coach, Javier Piles, would lock him in a 6 foot-by-6 foot storeroom and keep him there for hours. Piles would hand Ferrer water and bread through the bars of the room’s window, but would not succumb to Ferrer’s pleas to let him out. Ferrer said he quickly figured out that focusing on his tennis was more pleasant than incarceration, and Piles’s lessons paid off.”…Ernests Gulbis on his former partying ways: “I’ve done all the possible wrong things that you can do in a tennis career. But I’m very happy I made the mistakes that I did. That’s important to understand. They were my mistakes, not others’, and I learned from them. The mistakes are simple. After playing a good tournament, you get a week off. You can spend that week the right way, going for a one-hour run each day or going to the gym. Or you can do nothing like I did. You eat and drink whatever you want and not sleep at night. After that one week, maybe at 17 you don’t feel it. At 22 years old, you start to feel it. And you don’t play so well.”…Tennis writer Bud Collins on Caroline Wozniacki being No. 1: “But, that’s the way it is in the female game, dictated by Medusa, the WTA computer. Anybody who can figure out Medusa’s brain deserves an MIT degree. Suppose the Red Sox won the pennant but the Yankees scored more runs and were awarded No. 1? You get the idea. Even if she doesn’t win the title, Wozniacki will remain No. 1. Ask Medusa, not me.” — We’ll clue you in for free Bud: Woz wins a ton of tournaments (but not Slams), while everyone else is always injured (Serena, Venus, Kim) or likewise can’t win the big events to overtake her (Zvonareva). MIT class dismissed…Novak Djokovic on trying to tamper down the hype of him sitting in the Michael Jackson-type pressurized egg machine that reportedly boosts athletic performance: “Well, all I can say is that I have used it a couple of times last year and I haven’t used it since. You know it’s very interesting technology, but I don’t know the effect of it…I haven’t used it this year because I’m really not intending to change my routines…I’m going to repeat it for the last time: It doesn’t have any influence on my success.” — So which is it Novak?…Ryan Harrison’s dad Pat speaking to Grantland: “I actually still am his main coach. I’m still the guy he calls when there’s six rain delays at Wimbledon. Ryan knows there’s nobody in the world that knows the game better than I do.” — Wow, now the tennis world knows that Pat Harrison is the best tennis coach out there…Serena Williams breezily talking to reporters about the infamous f-bomb-laden US Open incident when she threatened to shove a ball down a linesperson’s throat after foot faulting: “I got really popular. A lot of people were telling me they thought I was super cool, that they’d never seen me so intense. So, yeah, it was awesome.”…Tennis Channel shows a stats page on Madison Keys but with a head shot (and a grainy head shot copy-and-pasted off the web) of Christina McHale, nice…When you’re Melanie Oudin, 9-29 on the season after getting bageled in the first round of the US Open, when do you fire your coach and get a fresh kick-start? If the coach is still sleeping with the mom, we guess maybe never? Oudin herself admits it might be time for a sports psychologist…Madison Keys will be the next American women to enter the Top 10 (aside from a Williams sister)…Martina Navratilova — more commentary and less endless rambling, and stop calling Tracy Austin “Chris”…Even Pam Shriver says Coco Vandeweghe needs to get in shape…If the US Open night crowd seems loud to John McEnroe, you know it’s loud…

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11 Comments for Venus Unveils Illness, McHale Run Continues at US Open

scoreboard66 Says:

This is terrible news for Venus. I had hoped she’d be able to make a good run this year at the USO. Dunno, but this could be the end of her career. Sjogren’s Syndrome is an extremely painful condition, which flares up without any warning One of my friends’ mother has this condition. This kind of illness is not what a tennis player needs in their hectic schedule.

Andres Says:

I heard that in order to treat that condition the patient have to take esteroids, if thats the case that will pretty much end her career. Sad news indeed

jane Says:

Sad for Venus. : / Her release statement says she hopes to return to the court soon, though, so her career still hangs in the balance.

Gregoire Gentil Says:

Being in good shape is part of the job for a tennis player. Take a look at Federer. We always find excuse for players who are sick and never give reward to players who don’t miss a match or prefer to puke between points rather than giving up (ex. Petko…)

Venus should be simply more honest: she was just scared to get a bagel from Sabine…

andrea Says:

venus was never one to talk about injuries so i’ll take her word on this one.

Skeezerweezer Says:


Imo i give a pass for Venus, when is the last time she withdrew from illness?

However, you make a great point about Fed and the rest of the top 5, his excuse-injury-sick-quitter record is GOAT and can never be touched….he is …………….GOAT.

margot Says:

Auto-immune illnesses are horrible. Such a shame for Venus.

Kathy Says:

Sorry for Venus, but congrats to Christine!!! Bergen County is rooting for you…you go, girl!!

Anna Says:

Congratulations to Christine! Her tennis seems effortless and was the absolute opposite of Marion on court. Hopes she pulls off a couple more upsets.

arishuza Says:

venus….sheesh such a pussy!

Skeezerweezer Says:

^ such a hater! Shame on u. She has a confirmed Ilness. Geez

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