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Venus a Vegan: Tennis Player Struggles with Diet

After a seven-month hiatus, tennis champion Venus Williams is back on the court. But after going vegan for her health, what she really wants is a nice, juicy serving of meat.

In 2011, Williams was diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome, an immune system disease whose symptoms have plagued the star for years. The meat-free, dairy-free, vegan diet helps manage the symptoms of Sjogren's by reducing inflammation in the body.

But it hasn't exactly been an easy transition for Williams, who joked about stealing from the plates of her meat-eating friends.

"I think it's pretty well known I'm a cheagan." Williams explains about her tendency to cheat on her vegan diet.

It's not just meat that the athlete has had to give up, she's also had to say goodbye to her favorite cherry pies, whose sugar load can exacerbate symptoms of Sjogren's. Williams has additionally added more rest days to her training schedule.

It may be tough for the tennis champ to forego her favorite meals, but it certainly seems to be paying off on the court. Williams' start in the Australian Open looks promising, with a 6-1, 6-0 win Monday against Galina Voskoboeva. Williams finished 2012 at No. 24, after an impressive move of over 75 spots.

Venus' remarkable comeback should come as no surprise. Both she, and younger sister Serena  Williams, have always stunned on the court. The pair won the Olympic gold in London for doubles, and Serena Williams won the U.S. Open and Wimbledon.

Now in her 20th season, Venus Williams, 32, seems stronger and more determined than ever. She discusses the new period in her life as 'Venus A.D' referring to herself after diagnosis.

"I love the game, and while I'm here, I'm going to go for it." Williams remarked.

Williams will play a second-round match with Alize Cornet, and may soon face the No. 2 champion, Maria Sharapova.

''When you're a young person, you just don't think it's ever going to end, and you're on top of the world. Now, I realize, all these opportunities, I try to make the best I can of them.''


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