French badminton's rising star Leonice Huet is taking inspiration from 23-time tennis Grand Slam winner Serena Williams as she bids to qualify for a home Olympics at Paris 2024.
The 20-year-old from Normandy in northern France is one of only a small number of players on the professional BWF tour who are black or of black descent, and cited both Williams and her fellow tennis player Osaka Naomi as her sporting heroes.
"It is very important for black people to know that they are capable of achieving great success in life. It is essential to convey this kind of powerful message to inspire them," she told the BWF.
"Idols like Serena Williams, who won 23 Grand Slams, matter. [Osaka Naomi] is a revelation, an activist of the Black Lives Matter movement and for me … an emblematic figure of our strength."
Huet, who won Youth Olympic Games silver at Buenos Aires 2018 in the mixed team relay competition, won her first match at the BWF World Tour Super 750 level of competition last month at the Denmark Open.
The Frenchwoman reached the second round of the competition before suffering defeat, and has been making solid progress climbing the ranks.
Now, a home Olympic Games in Paris in four years is within the sights of the shuttler of French Guyanese descent.
"It would be amazing for me to be there. It’s my dream. It’s my reason to get up in the morning."
Challenging the best
Huet has big dreams – not just to be at the Olympics, but to consistently play to a level where she's competing against the greats.
"I want to be able to challenge myself against the greatest athletes in the world like Carolina Marin and [Okuhara Nozumi]," she added.
And Huet is conscious that her efforts also contribute to a larger picture, the ongoing global discussion surrounding race and equality.
"I try to represent this force so prejudices fall and we are considered at our fairest value," the world number 164 said.
"I am proud of my skin colour and heritage."
(Top photo credit: Badmintonphoto/BWF)