Serena Williams has given a rare glimpse inside her close friendship with Duchess of Sussex Meghan, revealing they have been “relying” on each other’s support via regular text messages following the tennis star’s recent US Open drama.
The tennis pro, 36, launched a blistering verbal attack on umpire Carlos Ramos during her final match against Naomi Osaka, accusing him of sexism and branding him a ‘thief’ after he docked a point and handed out code violations to the tennis star throughout her match.
It led to a huge debate among viewers and while many defended Serena and pushed the need for more equality for women in tennis, others criticised her reaction and insisted the umpire was simply doing his job.
Now, in a tense TV interview with Aussie star Lisa Wilkinson on Channel 10’s The Project, Serena has revealed she has been texting Meghan following the scandal.
“We were actually just texting each other this morning,” Serena said in the chat, which was filmed three days after her on-court antics. “We have known each other for a long time, but we really kind of are relying on each other right a lot recently.”
Serena and her husband Alexis Ohanian famously attended Meghan’s wedding to Prince Harry earlier this year, while the Duchess herself has been pictured with her sister-in-law Catherine at one of her tennis matches since. It was previously claimed by Metro that the pair met at the 2010 Super Bowl in Miami, and have remained close ever since.
Discussing the wedding itself, Lisa noted Serena’s past excitement over how much influence there was of the African American culture, before asking her why it made her so happy.
Serena responded: “To have such a monumental moment in England, nonetheless of all the places, I felt like we were literally watching history. I feel like in a few years we are going to look back at that moment and it’s going to be so historic. It’s going to be something that people never forget.
“The whole service was really wonderful, and most of all I just wanted to see my friend be happy. And I think that’s what happened.”
Elsewhere on The Project, the interview became very tense when Serena’s publicist attempted to stop Lisa mid-flow, claiming she was asking too many questions about the US Open – having previously set a limit of four questions in advance.
“Your coach (Patrick Mouratoglou) admitted that he was coaching from the sideline so, in retrospect, do you think that makes the violation warranted?” Lisa began by asking.
Serena immediately replied: “I just don’t understand what he (Patrick) was talking about… We don’t have signals, we’ve never have signals. He said he made a motion, so I was like, ‘Okay, you made a motion and now you’re telling people you were coaching me? That doesn’t make sense, why would you say that’?”
Lisa then asked her to confirm if they’d had a “tough” conversation afterwards, to which Serena said yes.
Continuing the conversation, Lisa then asked: “You then smashed your racket. Do you regret that at all?”
However, an uncomfortable-looking Serena was seen pausing before her publicist chimed in: “Sorry, that’s four questions about the US Open, so can you change topics?”
“I’m in your hands, Serena. I’m totally in your hands,” Lisa immediately replied, before quickly adding: “If I could just do one more…”
She then mentioned how former tennis star Billie Jean King has shown her support for Serena following the drama, which prompted Serena to say: “I honestly am just always supportive of women, no matter what. That’s how I’ve always been. And I feel like Billie Jean King has done the same thing, with starting the tour and creating opportunities – for me – to play.”
Serena added: “Even a man, if you want to express yourself in a way where you’re not using profanity, or you’re just being yourself and you’re at this moment that you’ve worked for since you three years old and you’re on the cusp of this amazing moment.
“If you’re female you should be able to do even half of what a guy can do, and I feel like right now we are not, as it’s proven, in that same position. But that’s neither here nor there, I’m just trying to recover from that and just move on.”