Lewis is a great champion and close friend, says Serena

Sochi (Russia) (AFP) –


Lewis Hamilton received warm and emotional support from Serena Williams on Saturday ahead of his bid to equal Michael Schumacher’s record 91 wins in Sunday's Russian Grand Prix.

The runaway Formula One series leader and six-time champion is a friend of the American tennis star and has often praised her – while the pair also share feelings on diversity and equality.

“Lewis and I are super close," said Williams, speaking in Paris on the eve of the French Open.

"I've known him for years. I love that guy. He's a really good friend of mine. The guy is such a champion - has such a champion's mindset.

"I look at what he does training, physically, his job. Really no words for it, to be honest. He is for me the greatest driver that our generation has seen.

"I'm confident that he will break the record of Michael Schumacher, who was also a fabulous driver.

"But Lewis is so intense. If you know anything, even if you're a fan, you know he lives his life on his sleeve.

"He's very emotional. He says what he says. That's just who he is. He doesn't care who you are. That's one thing I've grown to really appreciate about him, as well.”

Hamilton has led Formula One’s anti-racism campaign this season, leading the drivers in taking a knee before races and drawing attention to the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign.

He claimed a record-increasing 96th pole position on Saturday to set up his race to equal Schumacher’s record in a season when he is set to claim a record-equalling seventh drivers’ title.