Formula One star Lewis Hamilton has paid tribute to Serena Williams, calling her "awesome" and "a born leader".

Formula One star Lewis Hamilton has paid tribute to Serena Williams, calling her "awesome" and "a born leader".

He was speaking after the Australian Open champion's post on social media this week about the comments of suspended Romanian Fed Cup captain Ilie Nastase.

“I’m very much with her in what she said,” he said before the start of the Russian Grand Prix race weekend in Sochi. “I thought it was beautiful what she wrote as a powerful, independent black woman. I just think she’s awesome.

"She’s not only one of the greatest people I know, but she’s just a born leader and so rather than react in a negative way, reading what she’s written just inspires me and hopefully inspires others.”

The three-time Formula One world champion has previously praised his friend Williams for inspiring him in his own sport.

Last year, he said: "Growing up watching her career, I'm absolutely inspired by her and still today by her drive. She's the greatest athlete of our generation.

"I'm absolutely mesmerized by what she has achieved and definitely inspired by her as an athlete and as a human being, so I'm trying to learn from her."