Parris determined to follow in sister's footsteps and make sporting history

Lyon (AFP) –


Nikita Parris saw her elder sister make history as an Olympic boxer, and now she is hoping it will be her turn when she runs out for England against the United States in the women's World Cup semi-finals.

England are through to their third consecutive major tournament semi-final. They fell at this hurdle in 2015 and at Euro 2017, and standing between them and the final now are the holders, the most successful nation in the history of the women's game.

If they can come out on top, they will be the first England senior side to reach a World Cup final since 1966, so it is little wonder that Tuesday's showdown in Lyon is so hotly anticipated.

With record television audiences tuning in at home to follow Phil Neville's side, Parris and her teammates have been thrust into the spotlight in France.

The 25-year-old Liverpudlian -- who recently signed for Lyon, the European champions, from Manchester City -- has lit up the tournament with her pace down the right flank for England, and scored a penalty in their opening win over Scotland.

It has been a mixture of highs and lows on a personal level, however, with Parris having another penalty saved against Argentina and again in the quarter-final against Norway.

It is the nature of sport, something she learned from her sister -- Natasha Jonas was the first female boxer to compete for Britain at the Olympics, doing so in the lightweight category at the 2012 Games only after injury had forced her to give up on her own football career.

"The biggest learning curve I got from my sister's career was never to give up," Parris, who is 10 years younger than Jonas, said on Monday.

"She had so many ups and downs, injuries, big injuries, ACLs, and she never gave up, she's always come back fighting and I am proud to say that my sister was the first female boxer in the Olympics.

"That's history -- she's made her mark and that's what you want to do when you take part in any sport, you want to make an impact and make a mark for the rest to follow."

- 'We don't fear them' -

Having shared training facilities with tennis great Serena Williams earlier in their World Cup campaign, England's women have not had to look far for sources of inspiration in France.

The challenge now for them is to end the USA's grip on the trophy and go on to Sunday's final against either Sweden or the Netherlands.

That might sound easier said than done, with England's last meeting with the US at a World Cup ending in a 3-0 defeat in 2007.

However, regular encounters at the SheBelieves Cup in recent years suggest they are evenly matched and give Parris reason to declare she and her team will not be overawed.

Parris, who idolised Thierry Henry as a youngster, scored in a 2-2 draw when the teams met at this year's tournament which Neville's side won.

"I think our perception of America, rightly so they are respected in the women's game -- look at what they have done over the years -- but I don't believe we fear them," she said.

The USA claimed a record 13-0 win over Thailand in their opening game at the tournament, yet they have advanced through the knockout phase with narrow victories against Spain and France.

"I can't really sit here and say to you that we are scared of them like probably Thailand looked in parts of their game.

"That's not us, but don't get me wrong, America have shown in the past that they are a great team and I am sure they will show that going forward but so will we."