Tennis superstar Serena Williams

Tennis superstar Serena Williams and poet Amanda Gorman led an outpouring of support for Meghan Markle following her explosive allegations of racism in the British royal family. In a two-hour interview with Oprah Winfrey, Markle, whose mother is Black, said her husband Prince Harry revealed his family's concerns over "how dark" her son Archie's skin would be. She also said no members of the royal family had spoken out to defend her against a torrent of what she said was racist coverage from British tabloids. "Her words illustrate the pain and cruelty she's experienced," Williams tweeted after the interview aired on Sunday.

"I know first hand the sexism and racism institutions and the media use to vilify women and people of color to minimize us, to break us down and demonize us," said Williams, hailing her "selfless friend." "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."

Markle told Winfrey she had contemplated taking her own life after joining the royal family and that she was denied help during her mental health crisis. "Royalty is not a shield from the devastation and despair of racism," Bernice King, daughter of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., tweeted in support. "We can know racism exists in an institution and still hurt for someone who was hurt by it," she wrote. "I'm grateful that Meghan Markle is still here."

In this file photo Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman speaks during the inauguration of US President Joe Biden on the West Front of the US Capitol in Washington, DC.-AFP

'Missed opportunity'

African American poet Gorman, who became a star after her reading at President Joe Biden's inauguration, said the British royal family had missed an opportunity to change. "Meghan 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," the 22-year-old Gorman tweeted, referencing Prince Harry's mother Diana, who was killed in a high-speed car crash in Paris in 1997 as she tried to escape paparazzi. "Meghan is living the life Diana should have, if only those around her had been as brave as she was. Meghan isn't living a life without pain, but a life without a prison.

"This isn't Meghan's princess 'happy' ending. But sometimes change, the decisions that bring us the most hurt, aren't about happiness, but healing." Gorman said it was unclear if it would change the royal family, but Markle would inspire women. "Think of the women who will be inspired to stand up for their lives, the partners who will be kinder & more courageous than the kin they were born into," she tweeted. Meena Harris, niece of Vice President Kamala Harris, also voiced support for Markle. "She was suicidal and begged for help," she said, adding a tweet with a quote from Markle after discussing her mental health struggles with Winfrey. "Meghan Markle: 'I'm still standing.'" - AFP