At 30 years old, tennis power house Caroline Wozniacki is in a place she never would have imagined.
The former world number one was at the peak of her career back in 2018, when her world came crashing down, suddenly being diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis.
“I had won the Australia Open in January 2018, but in the lead up to the US Open, I began to feel joint soreness, constant fatigue, and other unexplained symptoms. I was starting to lose matches I would have been expected to easily win,” she said.
The 2018 Australian Open Grand Slam champion has taken on a new challenge, advocating for Advantage Hers, a program that gives women suffering from chronic inflammatory illnesses the information, understanding and support to gain
Advantage Hers will equip and empower Australian women with chronic inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, to take more active roles in shared decision-making about their care.
Retiring in July of 2020 during the peak of COVID-19, Wozniacki is helping those in a similar position to her, inspiring other women to take control of their chronic inflammatory illnesses and overcome physical and emotional strains.
“Women with chronic inflammatory diseases face a unique set of challenges, as they navigate concerns around their lifestyles, careers and family planning alongside their diagnosis,” Wozniacki said.
But making it to this level as an advocate for Advantage Herswas not an easy journey, with the tennis star struggling to find the correct help she needed.
“Being diagnosed with RA was a complete shock, and as an elite athlete…I struggled to get doctors to take me seriously,” she said.
She recounts the moment she knew she needed to seek expert medical advice.
“One unforgettable day I awoke in such severe pain that my husband had to carry me out of bed; I physically couldn’t move. I immediately sought medical attention, and that started the road to my eventual diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis,” the 30-year-old said.
“I didn’t know how to make the people in my life understand the sudden and strange symptoms I was experiencing. I felt quite alone at certain moments.”
Yet knowing and living with the difficulties of life with a chronic illness has not got Wozniacki down, instead, it has skyrocketed her to assist others.
“I know from experience the difficulty there can be getting a swift and accurate diagnosis. That is why I am so passionate about being part of UCB’s Advantage Hers campaign. I want to do everything in my power to help other women around the world and now in Australia who are dealing with chronic inflammatory diseases,” Wozniacki said.
“My turning point came when I finally found a rheumatologist who understood what I was going through. I finally had a reason for these unexplained symptoms, and I could start to focus my life on a new set of goals. It was the start of the new me.”
Selina Clifford, Country Lead at UCB Australia reiterates that experiencing chronic inflammatory disease can be unique story for every woman, but through this program, the control goes back into their hands.
“Our aim with this campaign and our partnerships with Caroline Wozniacki and Dr Ginni Mansberg, is to provide valuable information that can make a meaningful difference to patients’ lives,” said Clifford.
As for Wozniacki, her message to others experiencing similar setbacks is to find the good in your situation, while seeking the best support to see you through.
“Some days I have victories over my disease, but other days I don’t. I try not to get frustrated with my body when things don’t go right…I won’t let it hold me back,” she began.
“It’s important to know your health, become your own best advocate, and to work on a long-term game plan with a doctor who understands you.”
To get involved, follow Caroline’s journey on her social channels (Instagram: @carowozniacki; Twitter: @CaroWozniacki; Facebook: Caroline Wozniacki), using #AdvantageHers. More information and resources on living with these chronic inflammatory diseases can be found at:AdvantageHers.com/aus.