Serena Williams believes Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, is the “epitome of strength”.

The 39-year-old tennis star has long been a friend of the royal, also 39, and has said she admires how “confident” and “selfless” Meghan is, especially in the wake of her tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey earlier this month.

Speaking during the debut episode of ‘The Shine Series’, Serena said: “Meghan is a great person and I think the epitome of strength, the epitome of confidence, the epitome of just selflessness, and the epitome of everything is just her and everything that she’s gone through.

“And I know it’s not easy, and you can see from the interview that it wasn’t easy. But she had so much poise and she still had so much class.”

The sports star also hailed Meghan as “the strongest person” she knows, and said she doesn’t know anyone else who could handle public scrutiny on the level the former actress has.

She added: “I just think that she is the strongest person I know. I don’t know anyone else that could handle anything 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. Just minute after minute, another untrue allegation being thrown at her.”

Serena went on to discuss supporting her competitors despite being brought up in a a world that pits women against each other, because she wants to “inspire” her three-year-old daughter Alexis Olympia – whom she has with her husband Alexis Ohanian – and other young girls to “believe in themselves”.

She explained: I compete against women all the time … we can go tooth and nails, but it doesn’t mean we have that we have anything against each other. I actually support you and I want the best for you.

“I really just hope that I inspire Olympia and the next generation of girls to believe that anything is possible. And, mostly, to believe in themselves. Bold moves happen every day in all walks of life … you don’t have to be a professional tennis player [or an] athlete. It can happen every single day for a lot of people.”