They've supported each other at weddings and grand slam finals - and now Serena Williams is backing Meghan Markle as the world turns its spotlight on the Duchess of Sussex.

As new unseen clips emerge from Markle's bombshell Oprah interview, Williams has sent a strong message of support to her close friend.

"Meghan Markle, my selfless friend, lives her life - and leads by example - with empathy and compassion," Williams wrote.

"She teaches me every day what it means to be truly noble. Her words illustrate the pain and cruelty she's experienced.

"I know first hand the sexism and racism institutions and the media use to vilify women and people of colour to minimise us, to break us down and demonise us.

"We must recognise our obligation to decry malicious, unfounded gossip and tabloid journalism. The mental health consequences of systemic oppression and victimisation are devastating, isolating and all too often lethal.

"I want Meghan's daughter, my daughter and your daughter to live in a society that is driven by respect.

"Keep in your memory the fruitage of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control. Against such things there is no law."

 

 

It's not the first time Williams has leapt to Markle's defence.

In 2019, the Duchess of Sussex made a surprise visit to Wimbledon to watch Williams play courtside.

But Meghan's Wimbledon appearance attracted a flurry of negative press, with those sitting nearby reportedly warned by security not to take photos of her.

Speaking at a Wimbledon press conference, Williams was asked by one reporter whether Meghan would watch her play in the finals given the "negative media" surround her last appearance.

"You know I didn't know there was negative media out there," Williams replied. "Every time I see her name attached to anything I don't read it."

The tennis superstar praised Meghan - who she has been close with since meeting at a celebrity volleyball event in 2014 - for being a good person.

"She couldn't be a better friend to me - low moments, high moments she's always there and that's all I want to be to her," she said.

Tennis fan Hasan Hasanov was photographed being told off by the Duchess of Sussex's security team for snapping a selfie of himself with the players in the background.

 

 

Questions were also raised about why Meghan and her two friends sat in the middle of rows of empty seats while on an earlier visit Kate Middleton had been surrounded by the public.

An official organising the Duchess of Sussex's visit later admitted it had been difficult, saying to The Times: "It was a nightmare, she was a nightmare".

Meghan was accused by the official of having "self-regarding paranoia" and breaking dress code.

They said: "They couldn't invite her into the Royal Box because she was wearing jeans but that didn't really matter because all she wanted to do was come and watch Serena."

 

Originally published as Serena's statement after Meghan interview


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