Wozniacki returns to tennis after battle with rheumatoid arthritis

The former No. 1 women's tennis player in the world said she "woke up and couldn't get out of bed." After three years, she is coming back.

Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki wipes away tears after her last match in January 2020.
Andy Brownbill/AP

Caroline Wozniacki has not played a competitive tennis match in nearly three and a half years. After receiving treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and giving birth to two children, the former No. 1 player in the world announced she is returning to the sport. 

Wozniacki wrote an essay for Vogue this week explaining her decision to return to tennis. Her plan is to play the National Bank Open in Montreal this August before taking on the U.S. Open. 

She also said she would like to represent Denmark at next year's Olympic Games. 

Before walking away from tennis, the then-29-year-old was struggling. She failed to make it past the third round of her final seven grand slam events. 

WTA Tour has a plan to offer pay equal to men's tour
WTA Tour has a plan to offer pay equal to men's tour

WTA Tour has a plan to offer pay equal to men's tour

The WTA has vowed to close the tennis pay gap over the next decade. The result will mean more top-tier tournaments.


After winning the 2018 Australian Open, she never regained the edge she once had over her competition. Wozniacki revealed in her essay her rheumatoid arthritis was debilitating her. 

"I woke up and couldn’t get out of bed," she said. "I was in so much pain that I couldn’t even brush my hair or brush my teeth. Eventually, after going through five, six, seven doctors, I learned that I had a chronic inflammatory disease — rheumatoid arthritis."

She said she did not hit a single tennis ball until late last year, after giving birth to her second child. 

"I was relaxed and having fun, and somehow that let me see everything more clearly," she said. 

She asked her husband, former NBA player David Lee, if she should make a comeback. She said his response was: “Honestly, why not? We only live once.”

She said the time off has helped her mentally and physically. Whether that translates to wins remains to be seen. 

"I’m not going to make any bold predictions — but if I didn’t believe in myself, I wouldn’t be doing this: I’m too competitive to just show up and not feel like I’m going to be one of the best players out there," she said.