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Serena Williams: America must 'pull together' in scary times

Star says it "hasn't been easy" since sister Venus diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome

Rachel Nichols and Chris Borg | 8/20/2015, 9:45 a.m.
She stands on the brink of writing another chapter in tennis history, but Serena Williams has other things on her ...
Serena Williams speaks to CNN on the red carpet of the 2011 Essence Black Women of Hollywood Awards. CNN

— Williams revealed it "hasn't been easy" since her sister and fellow champion Venus was diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome, a condition that affects the immune system, in 2011.

She said the diagnosis had informed the studies she had chosen -- she switched from a business course to pre-med -- and made her focus on "being able to find alternative ways of being healthy and not having to take all these medicines."

That, she explained, meant "holistic medicines and stuff," adding: "I kind of really want to focus on that in my field, and I think it's also healthier and better.

"And if something happens, it's always good to know yourself, what's going on and what you can do."

So how does she balance the twin demands of tennis and study?

"I like education and I don't like to sit still," she said. "I don't like any free time -- I like to keep going and going. And I realize that's just a craziness that I have, and that's just who I am. And, yeah, I like it."

But what about the tennis? How much is the prospect of emulating German great Graf weighing on her mind?

"I don't really think about it -- and quite frankly, I don't really want to talk about it," she said simply.

If she does win, though, how will she celebrate?

"I've faced a lot of adversities. I've learned that I have a tough mind," she explained. "And if I win the U.S. Open, I'm going to take a vacation. I'll just take a deep breath and disappear."