| By New York Tennis Magazine Staff

American Venus Williams has announced her withdrawal from the 2012 Australian Open, due to the lingering effects of Sjogren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disease that has caused the seven-time Grand Slam winner severe fatigue and joint pain. Venus' last appearance was an Aug. 29 win at the 2011 U.S. Open, a 6-4, 6-3 win over Russian Vesna Dolonts. Two days later, she bowed out of the Open after being diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome.

“I regret to announce that I am withdrawing from the 2012 Australian Open," said Venus in a statement on her Web site. "After several months of training and treatment, I am making steady progress to top competitive form. My diet and fitness regimen have allowed me to make great strides in terms of my health and I am very close to being ready to return to WTA competition. I have every intention to return to the circuit in February.”

Since reaching the semifinals at the 2010 U.S. Open, Williams has played only 11 matches.