Venus Williams pulls out of Australian Open

January 9, 2012 - 4:32 PM

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Venus Williams says she is withdrawing from the Australian Open.

The seven-time Grand Slam title winner announced on Twitter and her website that she wouldn't play in the year's first major tournament, which starts next week.

Williams hasn't played competitively since pulling out of the U.S. Open on Aug. 31, saying she'd been diagnosed with Sjogren's syndrome, an autoimmune disease that can cause fatigue and joint pain.

The 31-year-old American is a former No. 1 who is 100th in this week's WTA rankings.