Serena Williams praises 'poise and class' of Meghan Markle: 'Strongest person I know'

Watch: Serena Williams thinks Duchess Meghan is the 'epitome of strength'

Meghan Markle is the "epitome of strength and confidence", according to her friend Serena Williams.

The tennis great said Meghan was the strongest person she knew, as she explained why she had decided to post a statement about the duchess in the wake of her interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Williams wrote on social media after the interview that Meghan was a "selfless friend" who taught her "every day what it means to be noble".

Asked why she decided to send the message during a chat on shoe brand Stuart Weitzman's YouTube channel, Williams said: "Meghan is a great person and I think the epitome of strength, the epitome of confidence, the epitome of selflessness, the epitome of everything is just her and everything she's gone through.

"I know it's not easy, you can see from the interview it wasn't easy, but she had so much poise and so much class, I think she is... the strongest person I know.

"I don't know anyone who could handle everything on such a global scale, the way that she's had to handle things that are just untrue, minute after minute, not even day after day but minute after minute, just another untrue allegation being thrown at her.

"It was important for me to say something – I'm tired of sitting back and seeing all this negativity that's just not true."

Watch: Meghan’s front-page statement in Mail On Sunday on hold pending possible appeal

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Meghan and Williams have been friends for several years, but the tennis star has previously been reluctant to speak too openly about the duchess.

In an interview with Naomi Campbell last summer, Williams was asked: “Are you happy that your girlfriend's moved to America? Meghan Markle.”

She replied: “Don't know what you're talking about, don't know nothing about that.”

Avoiding a push from Campbell to share some news, she added: “Never seen her, never heard of her, don't know her.”

2019 US Open Tennis Tournament- Day Thirteen. Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex reacts while in the the team box of Serena Williams next to Oracene Price, mother of Serena Williams while watching Serena Williams of the United States in action against Bianca Andreescu of Canada in the Women's Singles Final on Arthur Ashe Stadium during the 2019 US Open Tennis Tournament at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 7th, 2019 in Flushing, Queens, New York City. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
Meghan Markle in the team box of Serena Williams next to Oracene Price, Williams's mother, while watching Williams at the 2019 US Open. Williams's husband Alexis Ohanian is in front. (Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

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They met in 2010 at a Super Bowl party. Williams attended Harry and Meghan’s wedding in 2018 and Meghan has supported the Grand Slam champion from the stands of several matches.

Meghan and Harry's interview with Winfrey shook the monarchy to its core with allegations of racism and claims she was unable to access vital support when she was suffering suicidal thoughts.

The Royal Family made it clear they wanted to deal with the issues raised privately, and it later emerged that Harry and Prince William had spoken, as had Harry and Prince Charles, but the conversations were "not productive".