Serena Williams, a former world No.1 and a 13-time Grand Slam singles champion, had emergency surgery to remove a blood clot from her lungs. The tennis superstar is now recuperating at her Los Angeles home.
"This has been extremely hard, scary, and disappointing," Williams said in a statement. "I am doing better, I'm at home now and working with my doctors to keep everything under control."
The 29-year-old Williams was photographed on Sunday at Elton John Aids Foundation Academy Awards party in Hollywood but fell ill the following day and was admitted to the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles where she underwent surgery.
Doctors discovered the blood clot after Williams travelled to New York last week for a treatment on a foot injury that has sidelined her for eight months, according to her spokeswoman Nicole Chabot.
"Serena did indeed suffer from a pulmonary embolism last week and the hematoma was another unexpected scare," Chabot said. "Thankfully everything was caught in time. With continued doctor visits to monitor her situation, she is recuperating at home under strict medical supervision."
Williams has been sidelined from competitive tennis since winning last year's Wimbledon championship. Shortly after the victory she cut her foot on broken glass at a restaurant in Germany.
The American has had two operations on her foot since then and was preparing to return to training soon in the hope of making a comeback in Miami later this month.
Williams has slipped from number one to 11th on the world rankings during her extended absence and now faces an uncertain future.
"I know I will be OK but am praying and hoping this will all be behind me soon," she said. "While I can't make any promises now on my return, I hope to be back by early summer.
That said, my main goal is to make sure I get there safely."
Embolisms, often caused when blood clots form in the legs or arm then travel towards the leg and hearts, are usually treated by blood thinners. In Serena’s situation, she probably would need to be on an anti-coagulant like Coumadin for six to 12 months.
Serena’s last entry on her twitter account was “Tough day”.