Tennis star Serena Williams leads support of Meghan Markle after Oprah interview

8 March 2021, 09:59 | Updated: 8 March 2021, 10:02

Serena Williams has leapt to the defence of Meghan Markle following the Oprah Winfrey interview
Serena Williams has leapt to the defence of Meghan Markle following the Oprah Winfrey interview. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Tennis star Serena Williams has led the support for Meghan Markle following her bombshell, two-hour Oprah Winfrey interview with her husband Harry.

The Duchess of Sussex made a raft of stunning admissions and allegations about the Royal Family and her life prior to stepping down with the Duke of Sussex as working members.

Following the broadcast, which was aired in the US in the early hours of Monday morning, tennis legend Serena Williams described Meghan as her "selfless friend" who "teaches me every day what it means to be truly noble".

She said the Duchess of Sussex "leads by example" and "lives her life with empathy and compassion".

"Her words illustrate the pain and cruelty she's experienced," Williams posted on Twitter.

Read more: Meghan: There were 'concerns' about Archie's skin colour before birth

Read more: Meghan tells Oprah: 'I just didn't want to be alive anymore'

"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."

Read more: Sussexes reveal they are having a baby girl during Oprah interview

Watch: 'No room for racism in society': Minister reacts to Sussexes interview

The duchess also got the backing of former world number one professional tennis player Billie Jean King, who appeared to commend her for opening up about her mental health.

King wrote on Twitter: "Among the revelations from the Meghan and Harry interview is Meghan’s struggle with mental health.

"Her honesty will hopefully lead to more acceptance and more help for those who need it."

Actress and YouTuber Skai Jackson responded to the Oprah interview, saying: "Meghan is spilling all the tea."

Watch: Sussexes showed 'high degree of honesty', body language expert tells LBC

Read more: Queen stresses importance of family as royal rift deepens

She tweeted: "I just really wanna have a worried [sic] with whoever was concerned about Meghan’s baby skin color.. why does that even matter?"

Jackson added: "I can’t believe they put Meghan through all that stress.. they should be ashamed."

Daniel Martin, who did the make-up for the Duchess of Sussex on her wedding day, shared a picture of the royal pair on Instagram, alongside a poem from Maya Angelou that said: "You may write me down in history With your bitter, twisted lies, You may trod me in the very dirt. But still, like dust, I'll rise."

Celebrities and activists have also shown support for the couple, including the niece of US Vice President Kamala Harris, Meena Harris.

Prior to the interview airing, she tweeted: "Happy Meghan Markle appreciation day."

After it had finished she said: "Her Majesty The Queen Oprah."

Poet Amanda Gorman, who read her piece The Hill We Climb at the inauguration of US President Joe Biden, said the duchess was "the Crown's greatest opportunity for change, regeneration and reconciliation in a new era".

"They didn't just maltreat her light - they missed out on it," she added.

Bernice King, the youngest child of the late civil rights activist Martin Luther King, tweeted: "Royalty is not a shield from the devastation and despair of racism.

"I'm grateful that #MeghanMarkle is still here."

Social media users have also been largely sympathetic towards the couple following the broadcast.

Lord Alan Sugar wrote on Twitter: "I just watched the Harry and Meghan interview with Oprah on US TV. Hmm ... I'll be interested to see the reaction in the UK tomorrow."