I want to inspire girls the way Venus and Serena Williams inspired me, says Lioness hero Lauren James

I want to inspire girls the way Venus and Serena Williams inspired me, says Lioness hero Lauren James

Updated: 3 months, 1 day, 13 hours, 44 minutes, 18 seconds ago

IT’S Black History Month, celebrating the unforgettable achievements and contributions made by black people.

As it comes to a close, top names from the worlds of sport and television tell Caroline Iggulden about their own personal heroes.

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Lauren James is inspired by the fact Serena has managed to balance her sporting success with being a mum too

Credit: ISF Photos

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Lauren James aims to inspire young girls the same way Williams sisters inspired her

Credit: PA

Lauren James

Professional footballer

SERENA and Venus Williams are my sporting heroes.

Like myself and my brother Reece, they are two ­siblings who have done it at the highest level.

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Chelsea star Lauren with her brother Reece and dad Nigel

Credit: Instagram / @rjames

The sisters are icons and have paved the way for young sports people, boys as well as girls, who want to be tennis players.

I am on a similar journey alongside my brother, in terms of what we want to do for the youngsters growing up who want to become professional footballers.

I would love the chance to one day play in the same side as Reece on the biggest stage.

We played in the same team when we were just kids, up until the age of six when our partnership was broken up at Chelsea’s youth academy.

At the time we didn’t think about it, but now we look at photos and we can’t believe it.

So, for Venus and Serena to have shared a court together must have been surreal.

They have shared their entire lives and sporting journey together. But it is not just the sisters’ sporting ability that has inspired me.

Serena has balanced her sporting success with being a mum too, and that is unheard of.

To play at the highest level takes so much dedication and hard work.

To be able to juggle all that is incredible. It just shows what a great human being and athlete she is.

It is amazing what the ­Williams sisters have achieved in the sport — all the hard work that they have had to put in over the years.

To be a global icon and break down barriers is something that I also hope to do in the future.

The credit has to go to both the Williams women, as well as their father, who played a big supporting role — just like our own dad.

My dad Nigel’s Grenadian ­heritage has been massive in our upbringing, and has given us a better understanding of different cultures.

I am proud to have that part of me, alongside my mum being English.

It is just lovely to have it all.

Charlene White

Loose Women host

IT was my aunt who first told me the story of Darcus Howe when I was a child. She spoke of his fight for equality in the UK.

Darcus arrived in England in 1961 as a teenager and experienced racial tension and inequality in London.

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Charlene briefly met Darcus Howe, who she has chosen as her Black History hero

Credit: Getty

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Alongside the Black Panthers, Darcus fought for equality across the UK

Credit: Alamy

In 1970, alongside the British Black Panthers, he and Althea Jones-LeCointe organised a march when police tried to close the Mangrove ­restaurant in Notting Hill.

The arrests that followed triggered the trial of the Mangrove Nine.

Despite the might of Britain’s legal system, Howe and Jones-LeCointe led the ­defence – which saw all nine acquitted of the most serious charges.

I was fortunate to meet Darcus, fleetingly. It was like seeing an unassuming rock star.

What that taught me was that it’s everyday people who change the course of history.

Clive Myrie

Mastermind host

WHEN I learned that Roy Hackett had died at the age of 93 in August, I felt a wave of ­sadness overwhelm me.

Roy fought at great personal expense for my right to be treated fairly as a black Briton.

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Mastermind host, Clive Myrie, picks Roy Hackett as his Black History hero

Credit: PA

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Roy Hackett was one of the organisers of the Bristol Bus Boycott in 1963

Credit: Eyevine

Without Roy and other organisers of the Bristol Bus Boycott in 1963, Rishi Sunak may not have become Prime Minister.

I started my career in journalism in Bristol, where Roy was a legend.

It was there that he stood in Fishponds Road almost 60 years ago to block the entrance to the bus station.

Along with other Windrush generation colleagues, he was protesting against the bus company’s refusal to employ black and Asian people.

What Roy and his colleagues did was help make Britain a better place.

My ­parents and I, and millions of others, owe him so much.

Thank you, Roy.