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Serena Williams spoke out to support Meghan Markle and denounce tabloid journalism after the Duchess of Sussex told Oprah Winfrey that she's struggled with thoughts of suicide.
Markle opened up about her mental health struggles alongside her husband, Prince Harry, in an interview with Winfrey that aired on Sunday. Markle told Winfrey about the challenges she faced as a person of color who married into the British royal family.
"They were willing to lie to protect other members of the family, but they weren't willing to lie to protect me and my husband," Markle said of the palace.
Markle says media coverage drove her to suicidal thoughts
Markle told Winfrey that she was told that her son, Archie, would not not be named a prince or receive the security that comes with the title. She believes that he was denied both because of concerns over his skin color.
She also told Winfrey that the barrage of tabloid headlines focused on her led her to thoughts of suicide.
“I just didn’t want to be alive anymore,” Markle said. “And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought. ... I thought it would have solved everything for everyone.”
Serena Williams speaks out in support of friend
Williams expressed her thoughts on Twitter after the interview aired Sunday, regarding Markle as "my selfless friend." Markle has sat with Williams' family to watch her compete in tennis tournaments. Williams attended Markle's and Harry's wedding in 2018.
"Meghan Markle, my selfless friend, lives her life — and leads by example — with empathy and with 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."
Williams, one of the world's most prominent athletes, a Black woman and a mother of a young daughter, empathized with Markle's experience in the spotlight of the royal family.
"I know first hand the sexism and racism institutions and media use to vilify women and people of color to minimize us, to break us down and demonize us," Williams continued. "We must recognize our obligation to decry malicious, unfounded gossip and tabloid journalism. The mental health consequences of systemic oppression and victimization 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."
Markle and Prince Harry have split from the royal family and moved to the United States.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) at all hours if you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness or thoughts of suicide.
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