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Venus and soccer star unite to fight illness

FORMER Republic of Ireland international player Stephen McPhail and tennis star Venus Williams have been offering each other support coping with an incurable immune system disease.

The ill-effects of Sjogren's Syndrome -- which causes fatigue and the body to attack its own moisture-producing glands such as tear and salivary glands -- has been blamed as a key factor in the five-time Wimbledon champion crashing out of the tournament's first round.

Cardiff City midfielder Mr McPhail has told how they have been in touch and able to offer each other support in coping with the auto-immune condition.

Mr McPhail revealed he had got in contact with Ms Williams regarding the condition and she had phoned him at home.

"She exchanged stories on how she is dealing with the syndrome and I got some great advice," he told BBC Sport. The 32-year-old footballer then followed in her footsteps as he also sought out the medical guidance of specialist Dr Daniel Wallace in the US.

He has talked about the "frustrating nightmare" of coping with the disease and the difficulties of getting the right medication and formula to enable him to perform on the pitch each week.

Irish Independent