“Lewis and I are super close. 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”
Serena Williams expects Lewis Hamilton to overtake Michael Schumacher as Formula 1’s most successful driver of all time as both chase their own sporting records.
Williams has her sights on a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title at the French Open while six-times world champion Hamilton has his first chance to match Schumacher’s record 91 F1 wins at this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix.
The pair are long-standing friends and mutual supporters, and both Serena and her sister Venus have attended F1 races in the past.
As far back as 2016 Hamilton spoke of how he was “mesmerised” by Serena’s achievements as an athlete and inspired by her as a human being.
Both grew up with little money and no family background in their sports but with determined fathers pushing them on.
“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,” said Williams, who addressed the media at Roland Garros on the day she turned 39.
“Lewis and I are super close. 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, it’s really no words for it, to be honest.
“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,” continued the American. “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.”
Margaret Court’s record appears to slide ever so slightly further out of reach with every passing Grand Slam, but Williams said: “I honestly never thought I would be playing at my age. I mean, I don’t quite look 39. I don’t know when it’s going to stop for me. I just have fun. When I feel it’s over, it’s over.
“But I could have guaranteed and pretty much bet my life that I would not have been playing at 39. This is why I don’t bet.”