Serena Williams providing England Women with World Cup motivation
By Mathew Williams
Last Updated: 20/06/19 12:45pm
England Women's run to the knockout stages of the Women's World Cup has been inspired by 23-time Grand Slam tennis champion Serena Williams, says forward Beth Mead.
The former world No 1 is staying at England's training base just outside Nice, and has been providing inspiration to the Lionesses.
"We watched her train and warm-up the other day", said England and Arsenal's Mead. "She's one of the all-time best female athletes."
England's 2-0 victory over Japan means they have reached the last-16 of the tournament in France having won all three of their group games, and Mead explained they nearly had the support of Williams in the stands.
"I was in the lift with her and her little girl, and she asked us about the game and she asked if I was playing. I told her I wasn't and she made a joke about it probably being a good thing in the heat. She actually wanted to come to the game but it was a little too late for her little girl."
Phil Neville's side will face a third-placed finisher in the next round - either China, Cameroon, New Zealand, Chile or Thailand. Mead is in competition with Toni Duggan for a starting place in the England team after the Manchester City player returned from injury for the win against Japan.
"I really want Toni to be back on that pitch as soon as possible because it's the best thing for me as well", said Mead. "If we're both playing at our best it's the best thing for the team.
"It's a healthy but competitive environment. We've got 23 players in the squad and anyone could start. We need 23 players to win a World Cup."