‘I loved talking about important topics with my dear friend’: Serena Williams cosies up to pal Meghan Markle and daughter Olympia, 4, as she promotes Duchess’ first podcast episode
Serena Williams took to Instagram on Tuesday to promote her appearance on Meghan Markle’s first podcast episode, which was released earlier that day.
The tennis player, 40, shared a black-and-white snap which saw her cosy up to Meghan, 41, who looked chic in a coat which she layered over a denim outfit.
Meanwhile, Serena wore a tight Nike sports vest and joggers, while carrying her daughter Olympia, four, who she shares with her husband Alexis Ohanian, 39.
Pals: Serena Williams took to Instagram on Tuesday to promote her appearance on Meghan Markle’s first podcast episode, which was released earlier that day
Fun! In her caption, she wrote: ‘I loved talking about so many important topics with my dear friend Meghan as her first guest on #archetypes for @spotify!’
In her caption, she wrote: ‘I loved talking about so many important topics with my dear friend Meghan as her first guest on #archetypes for @spotify!
‘It’s out now and worth the listen, especially if you’re ambitious ❤️.’
Meghan used the first episode of her new podcast to fire a new broadside at the Royal Family as she claimed she was forced to continue with engagements on a tour of South Africa despite being left in tears when her son Archie narrowly escaped a fire in his bedroom.
The Duchess of Sussex also hit out at those who criticised her for being ‘ambitious’ when she started dating Prince Harry, during a wide-ranging discussion on the new episode of her long-awaited ‘Archetypes’ podcast on Spotify.
Uh-oh: Meghan used the first episode of her new podcast to fire a new broadside at the Royal Family as she claimed she was forced to continue with engagements on a tour of South Africa despite being left in tears when her son Archie narrowly escaped a fire in his bedroom
New episode: Entitled ‘The Misconception of Ambition with Serena Williams’, the Duchess of Sussex spoke to the tennis star in the podcast
And Meghan recounted the experience involving the fire during the tour of South Africa in autumn 2019 during a conversation with her close friend, tennis great Serena.
Meghan spoke of her distress after learning of the near-miss involving her son – which involved a heater in a nursery room catching fire – soon after delivering a speech to girls in the Nyanga township in Cape Town, before rushing back to see Archie and then having to leave him to carry out another official engagement.
In a wide-ranging discussion on the first episode of her long-awaited ‘Archetypes’ podcast, the Duchess also hit out at those who criticised her for being ‘ambitious’ when she started dating Prince Harry.
Entitled ‘The Misconception of Ambition with Serena Williams’, Meghan spoke to the tennis legend, who is one of her close friends, about double standards women face when they are labelled ‘ambitious’.
Uh oh! Meghan revealed how her son Archie narrowly escaped a fire that erupted in his bedroom during the Sussexes’ tour of South Africa (Pictured: Meghan and Harry with Archie on the day they met Archbishop Emeritus, Desmond Tutu, in Cape Town)
She also told of the ‘pain’ that she has suffered ‘behind closed doors’ and said she does not ‘ever remember personally feeling the negative connotation behind the word ambitious, until I started dating my now husband’.
The Duchess, who now lives in California with Harry and their two children after the couple quit as senior working royals at the start of 2020, also:
The podcast comes ahead of Harry and Meghan’s return to England next month for events in Manchester and London before heading to Germany. Harry has also been on a mini-tour of Africa, and visited Rwanda yesterday.
Speaking in the podcast about the fire in South Africa in Archie’s room, Meghan said: ‘There was this moment where I’m standing on a tree stump and I’m giving this speech to women and girls, and we finish the engagement, we get in the car and they say there’s been a fire at the residence. What? There’s been a fire in the baby’s room.’
Role model: Meghan makes a speech as she visits a Justice Desk initiative in Nyanga township, with Prince Harry during their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019. Just minutes later, she was told that her son’s bedroom was on fire
Meghan added: ‘We came back. And, of course, as a mother, you go, ‘Oh, my God, what?’ Everyone’s in tears, everyone’s shaken. And what do we have to do? Go out and do another official engagement. I said, ‘This doesn’t make any sense’.’
The Sussexes had dropped their son off at the housing unit they were staying in for a sleep straight after flying in for their official tour in 2019, with the couple then leaving to kick start their royal visit with their first engagement.
Archie’s then nanny, named only as Lauren – a Zimbabwean who liked to tie him on her back with a mud cloth – had taken him downstairs with her instead while she went to get a snack, just as the heater in the nursery caught fire.
Meghan said: ‘In that amount of time that she went downstairs, the heater in the nursery caught on fire. There was no smoke detector. Someone happened to just smell smoke down the hallway, went in, fire extinguished. He was supposed to be sleeping in there.’
Fun: Harry and Meghan watch dancers as they leave the Nyanga Township in Cape Town, South Africa. Meanwhile, back at home, Archie’s bedroom was on fire, she revealed today
The duchess described how she wanted to tell people what had happened.
‘I was like, Can you just tell people what happened? And so much, I think, optically, the focus ends up being on how it looks instead of how it feels,’ she said. She stressed the need for more understanding of the ‘human moments behind the scenes’.
The duchess added: ‘We had to leave our baby… and even though we were being moved into another place afterwards, we still had to leave him and go do another official engagement.’
Williams replies: ‘I couldn’t have done that.’
Later the same day, the couple had visited Cape Town’s historic District Six neighbourhood, met residents in its Homecoming Centre and heard from people who were forcibly removed to a township during the Apartheid era, with the Sussexes also carrying out an impromptu walkabout.
Awful: Meghan spoke of her frustration that she immediately had to do another official engagement after the fire (pictured doing so with Harry later the same day)
Meghan and Harry’s controversial African tour took place in the autumn of 2019, just months before they quit as senior working royals.
During the trip, the US born former Suits star filmed an interview with ITV in which she told of her struggles with royal life, and how she had tried to cope with the pressures by putting on a ‘stiff upper lip’.
In the Spotify podcast, which discussed the double standards women face when they are labelled ‘ambitious’, Meghan said: ‘Now, look, I’m not Catholic. I wasn’t raised Catholic.
‘But about one year after my letter writing campaign, I started middle school at Immaculate Heart (in Los Angeles). I stayed there, through high school. I was there for six years. And this feminist ideology trickled down into nearly every aspect of my education.
‘It’s probably safe to say into every aspect of my life. This message to me and my classmates was clear: our futures as young women were limitless. Ambition. Well, that was the whole point.
Couple: Harry and Meghan pictured with what is thought to be Archie’s nanny in South Africa, named only as Lauren
‘So I don’t ever remember personally feeling the negative connotation behind the word ambitious, until I started dating my now husband.
Meghan Markle tells Archetypes podcast how nursery heater caught fire during South Africa tour while Sussexes’ baby Archie was downstairs
Meghan Markle has revealed how her son Archie narrowly escaped a fire that erupted in his bedroom during the Sussexes’ tour of South Africa .
Speaking in the first episode of her Archetypes podcast, which was released today, the Duchess, 41, said the boy’s nanny had taken the four-and-a-half month old downstairs with her when she went to get a snack.
It was then, while she and Prince Harry were at an engagement, that the heater in his bedroom went ablaze, setting the nursery on fire.
Meghan revealed: ‘In that amount of time that she went downstairs, the heater in the nursery caught on fire. There was no smoke detector. Someone happened to just smell smoke down the hallway, went in, fire extinguished. He was supposed to be sleeping in there.’
The former Suits star told how they had dropped their young son at the housing unit they were staying in for a sleep straight after arriving on their official tour, with Meghan and Harry leaving to carry out a visit to the Nyanga township, where she delivered a speech.
‘There was this moment where I’m standing on a tree stump and I’m giving this speech to women and girls, and we finish the engagement, we get in the car and they say there’s been a fire at the residence. What? There’s been a fire in the baby’s room,’ she said.
Meghan added: ‘We came back. And, of course, as a mother, you go, ‘Oh, my God, what?’ Everyone’s in tears, everyone’s shaken. And what do we have to do? Go out and do another official engagement? I said, ‘This doesn’t make any sense’.’
‘And apparently ambition is a terrible, terrible thing. For a woman that is, according to some.
‘So since I felt the negativity behind it, It’s really hard to unfeel it. I can’t unsee it either in the millions of girls and women who make themselves smaller, so much smaller on a regular basis.
‘So I wanted to talk to someone who embodies the spirit of ambition to see how she thinks about the word and the connotation, and how the other many labels that affect all women have affected her too.’
Speaking to Williams, Meghan also said: ‘In our friendship when you have to see things that are mischaracterising of me, but you experience behind closed doors the pain that I’m going through.
‘What I think is so interesting is that even though that’s on a world stage, I don’t know if that feels much different for any woman. If you’re in a small town and you see someone saying something about your best friend that is just completely untrue, how that feels.
‘The thought of these, like, archetypes, but it’s the kind of stuff you and I talk about so much, these boxes and these labels – the things that we both have been called and witnessed each other being called.’
Meghan added: ‘As you heard in my chat with my dear friend, the notion of ambition comes with many judgements and nuances – especially for women.
‘The misconception that if you’re an ambitious woman you have an agenda, you must be calculating or selfish or aggressive, or a climber.
‘And that if you’re that fierce or strong, or brave then you somehow deserve whatever gets thrown at you – however disproportionate or unfair it may be, and even when it’s more than most could endure. Most men, most anyone.’
Talking about her guests – which will also include Mariah Carey next week – Meghan said: ‘They’ve all in some way borne the brunt of the labels we’ll be picking apart, and of course I know a thing or two about these labels myself.’
Meghan and Williams also shared personal stories about the struggles they have faced being new mothers.
Williams also revealed Harry helped her with the decision to retire from tennis long before it was announced, spending around an hour discussing the issue with her.
Meghan, who quit the monarchy as a senior working royal, said: ‘I think, you know, I think both of us, or the three of us, really know that sometimes the right decision isn’t the easiest decision.’
She told Williams: ‘It takes a lot of courage, I think, too, to stop something in many ways than to keep going sometimes.’
Loved up: Prince Harry and Meghan at the Invictus Games The Hague 2020 at Zuiderpark in the Netherlands on April 16, 2022
Here is a more in-depth look at some of the themes covered by Meghan during the podcast:
Writing a letter to Procter & Gamble over a sexist soap advert
Harry tells Serena Williams her hair is a ‘vibe’ and invites her to ‘come see us’ as he makes impromptu appearance in Meghan’s podcast chat
Prince Harry made an impromptu appearance on wife Meghan Markle ‘s hotly-anticipated Spotify podcast.
Entitled The Misconception of Ambition with Serena Williams , Meghan talks to her close friend and tennis superstar Williams about the double standards women face when they are labelled ‘ambitious’.
Harry made an appearance in the episode, with Meghan saying: ‘You wanna come say hi? Look who just popped in.’
Meghan and Williams greeted Harry with ‘hello’ in British accents, while Prince Harry told Williams: ‘I like what you’ve done with your hair. That’s a great vibe.’
Williams replied: ‘Thank you. Good to see you too as always, I miss you guys.’
The duke said, ‘Well come and see us’, with Meghan saying they would make a plan.
As Harry leaves, Meghan remarked: ‘Thanks my love.’
Meghan has spoken many times before about how she wrote letters to First Lady Hillary Clinton and celebrity attorney Gloria Allred about an Ivory dish soap commercial that she felt was sexist because it said: ‘Women are fighting greasy pots and pans.’
She also wrote to the product’s manufacturer Procter and Gamble and Linda Ellerbee, host of Nickelodeon’s Nick News programme – later appearing on the show to talk about it.
Speaking in the Spotify podcast, Meghan said: ‘When I was 11 years old, growing up in LA, I saw a commercial that would change the way I understood my place in the world.
‘Let me be clear: it wasn’t because this ad was some kind of ingenious piece of marketing – actually, it was just the opposite. So, here’s what happened: I was in the 6th grade, I was sitting in my classroom – and we were watching TV, when a commercial came on.’
She said the advert left her ‘furious’, continuing: ‘I was furious. Women? Did I, did I really just hear that guy say just women – as in only women – only women, women are the only ones who wash dishes?
‘And then, then I heard them – these two boys in my class, breathing life into my biggest fear. They said, ‘Yeah! That’s where women belong. In the kitchen!’ Oh man, this did not sit well with 11 year-old me.’
She said that after writing to the company and asking them to change the ad to ‘People all over America’, three months later ‘a new version of the ad appeared on TVs all around the country.’
Meghan continued: ‘They changed the language in the ad – from women to people. Now, I could paint this as a moment of triumph. And don’t get me wrong: it was. Because I learned that my one small action could have a ripple effect far beyond me.
‘But this experience was also something bigger: an awakening. To the millions of ways – big and small – that our society tries to box women in, to hold women back, to tell women who and what they should and can be. I’ve never lost touch with that reality.
Old pals: Meghan (left) and Serena (right) in New York City in 2014
‘And in the last few years, my desire to do something about it has grown. My 11-year-old voice has also gotten a little more confident, maybe a little louder.’
Speaking about different connotations of the word ‘ambitious’
‘I was SO tired!’ Meghan Markle says she ‘waddled around’ during pregnancies – while praising Serena Williams for looking ‘sexy’ while expecting on her new Archetypes podcast
Meghan Markle has revealed she was ‘so tired’ during her pregnancies – while praising Serena Williams for looking ‘sexy’ while expecting on her new Archetypes podcast.
In the first episode of the podcast, entitled ‘The Misconception of Ambition with Serena Williams’, the Duchess of Sussex spoke to the tennis legend, who is one of her close friends, about double standards women face when they are labelled ‘ambitious’.
In one clip, Serena spoke about how she ‘loved being pregnant’, with Meghan going on to praise her for posing naked on the cover of Vanity Fair with ‘that belly chain.’
The royal mother-of-two continued: ‘Forget it. Yeah. Yeah. It’s just like everything. You made pregnancy looks so sexy. I just waddled around. I was just tired. So tired. Oh my god.’
Meghan welcomed her first son Archie Harrison in May 2019, while her daughter Lilibet was born in June last year. Meanwhile Serena had her daughter Olympia in 2017.
Starting the discussion on pregnancy, Serena said: ‘I was like, oh, I love this. The nothing, nothing’s oh, I’m so happy. Like, I was literally.’
Meghan went on to refer to the athlete’s 2017 cover of Vanity Fair, in which Serena posed naked with a piece of jewellery draped across her body.
She said: ‘Oh, with the belly chain.’
Serena added: ‘One of…Those women.’
And after the Duchess said ‘forget it’, Serena added: ‘I was the annoying one. You were under a lot of stress.’
Meghan agreed, saying: ‘Yeah, it’s true.’
The Duchess also spoke about how her experience of the way ambition is perceived changed after embarking on her relationship with Harry.
She said that one year after her letter-writing campaign about the soap advert, she started middle school at Immaculate Heart in Los Angeles and spent six years there.
Meghan said: ‘This feminist ideology trickled down into nearly every aspect of my education. It’s probably safe to say into every aspect of my life.
‘This message to me and my classmates was clear: our futures as young women were limitless. Ambition? That was the whole point.
‘So, I don’t remember ever personally feeling the negative connotation behind the word ambitious until I started dating my now husband.
‘And um, apparently ambition is, uh… a terrible, terrible thing, for a woman that is – according to some. So, since I’ve felt the negativity behind it, it’s really hard to un-feel it. I can’t unsee it, either, in the millions of girls and women who make themselves smaller – so much smaller – on a regular basis.’
How Harry helped Serena Williams retire from tennis
Williams revealed Harry helped her with her decision to retire from tennis long before it was announced, spending around an hour discussing the issue with her.
Meghan, who stepped away from the monarchy with the Queen’s grandson for a new life in California, says to Williams: ‘I think, you know, I think both of us, or the three of us, really know that sometimes the right decision isn’t the easiest decision.’
As they discussed Williams’ retirement, Meghan added: ‘It takes a lot of courage, I think, too, to stop something in many ways than to keep going sometimes.’
Williams also said: I just wanted to just walk away quietly. And that’s how I’ve always seen my career. Just like, all right, I wanted to leave with no goodbyes.
But Meghan replied: ‘You’re not going to do that. No one, no one in the planet would let you do that. You are too loved. I mean, I and what I’m most excited about is that the last hurrah will be at the US Open because it’s home.’
And Williams said: ‘Yeah. And you guys have known about, you know, I’ve been trying to decide what to do and I’ve been, like, in and out and not really sure where to go. And that’s the worst place to be, is on the fence, as you know.
‘So it’s like make a decision, either be in it or be out of it. And, you know, I was on the fence for a while because I love what I do. And like I said, I’ve been doing this my entire existence even before I was born. It was what I was meant to do and what I was supposed to do and what was chosen for me. So, yeah, it’s hard.’
Meghan and Serena Williams mock British accents
Doting mum: Harry and Meghan hold their son Archie while visiting Cape Town in South Africa on September 25, 2019
Harry also made an appearance in the episode, with Meghan saying: ‘You wanna come say hi? Look who just popped in.’
Meghan and Williams greeted Harry with ‘Hello’ in British accents, with Harry telling Williams: ‘I like what you’ve done with your hair. That’s a great vibe.’
Williams replied: ‘Thank you. Good to see you too as always, I miss you guys.’
The duke responded ‘Well come and see us’, with Meghan saying they will make a plan.
As Harry leaves, Meghan remarked: ‘Thanks my love.’
The Archewell Foundation announced earlier this year that the couple’s Spotify podcast would finally debut this summer – 18 months after inking the lucrative deal.
Throwback: Serena and her husband Alexis at Windsor Castle for Meghan and Prince Harry’s wedding in May 2018
Archetypes is hosted by Meghan who will speak to historians, experts and woman who have experienced being typecast.
In a prior trailer for the Archewell Audio project, the duchess said: ‘This is how we talk about women: the words that raise our girls, and how the media reflects women back to us. But where do these stereotypes come from? And how do they keep showing up and defining our lives?’.
The Duchess, previewing the type of guests who will feature, added: ‘This is Archetypes – the podcast where we dissect, explore and subvert the labels that try to hold women back.
‘I’ll have conversations with women who know all too well how these typecasts shape our narratives. And I’ll talk to historians to understand how we even got here in the first place.’
Meghan and Harry signed a lucrative deal with the audio streaming giant to host and produce podcasts, estimated to be worth around £18million, in late 2020.
But they had only released one show prior to now – a holiday special featuring their son Archie and celebrity guests, in December 2020.
Meghan has long been a campaigner on female empowerment. Spotify and Archewell Audio described her conversations with typecast women as ‘uncensored’ and said the duchess would delve into the origins of stereotypes.
Former Suits actress Meghan is also an executive producer on the series, along with Ben Browning, Archewell’s head of content, and Rebecca Sananes, Archewell’s head of audio.
The podcast is being produced by Archewell Audio in partnership with Gimlet Media for Spotify.
How Meghan and Serena became BFFs: Aspiring actress met the tennis ace at a 2010 Super Bowl party before featuring her on her blog – then invited her to her wedding and star-studded baby shower after she met Harry
Meghan Markle and Serena Williams first met at a Super Bowl party in 2010 and eventually became close friends.
The Duchess of Sussex, 41, and the American tennis champ, 40, chat to one another on the royal’s first Archetypes podcast, released on Spotify today, about the double standards women face when they are labelled ‘ambitious’.
Serena, who recently announced her retirement from the sport, explains during the first episode of the highly anticipated series that she is ‘super loyal, to a fault’ after being ‘friends for so long’ with the Duchess.
Meghan met Serena briefly in 2010, and again in 2014, explaining on her now defunct blog The Tig that the pair ‘hit it off immediately’.
The Duchess invited the sportswoman to her wedding to Prince Harry and her star-studded baby shower when pregnant with Archie in New York City in February.
Serena, who equally isn’t shy about her friendship with Prince Harry’s wife, previously advised Meghan to ‘stop being so nice’ and also praised her ‘class and poise’ in the famous Oprah interview.
Meghan Markle and Serena Williams (pictured in 2014) first met at a Super Bowl party in 2010 and eventually became close friends
The Duchess of Sussex, 41, and the American tennis champ (pictured with husband Alexis Ohanian at Meghan’s wedding to Prince Harry) , 40, chat to one another on the royal’s first Archetypes podcast, released on Spotify today, about the double standards women face when they are labelled ‘ambitious’
Williams was in attendance for Markle’s blowout baby shower in New York City in February 2019, a few months before she gave birth to son Archie with her husband Prince Harry
According to Mark Hodgkinson in Serena: A Graphic Biography of the Greatest Tennis Champion, the women’s friendship quickly evolved through frequent phone calls and texts.
After becoming Prince Harry’s girlfriend and then a Duchess, Markle leaned on Serena for mentoring on how to handle the paparazzi and the international media.
Serena advised her to ‘stop being so nice’, according to the author.
And when Meghan learned she was pregnant shortly after Serena’s little girl was born, Serena offered her parenting advice.
Last year, Williams revealed: ‘We have known each other for a long time, but we really are relying on each other a lot recently.’
She added that watching Meghan marry Prince Harry in May 2018 was particularly special.
Meghan and Serena have been close friends since 2014 after having their first ‘real hangout’ at the DirecTV Beach Bowl (pictured), although they briefly crossed paths in 2010 at the SuperBowl
Serena said: ‘It was really exciting to see so much African-American culture in the wedding and I was really happy that Meghan wanted to incorporate that into it. It was just a whole cultural shift and change.
‘It was seeing how far African-Americans have come. I thought it was an incredibly inspiring and beautiful and really motivating thing. I was so proud of her and so happy for her.’
Meanwhile, in 2021, Serena praised Meghan, saying she is the ‘epitome of class and strength’ following her bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey.
She spoke to Behnaz Ghahramani the Chief Marketing Officer for Stuart Weitzman for their debut episode of the Shine Series, where she discussed her long-term friendship with the royal.
She described Meghan as ‘the strongest person she knows’.
A photograph of Meghan Markle issued with the first episode of her ‘Archetypes’ podcast which came out on Spotify today
‘Meghan is a great person and I think the epitome of strength, the epitome of confidence, the epitome of just selflessness, and the epitome of everything is just her and everything that she’s gone through,’ the tennis player told the Shine series.
‘You can see from the interview that it wasn’t easy. But she had so much poise and she still had so much class,’ she added.
‘I just think that she is the strongest person I know. I don’t know anyone else that could handle anything on such a global scale the way that she’s had to handle things that are just untrue – minute after minute.
‘Not even day after day. Just minute after minute, another untrue allegation being thrown at her,’ she added.
‘I think it was important for me to say something because I’m tired of sitting back and seeing all this negativity that’s just not true,’ she went on.
Meghan and Serena have been close friends since 2014 after having their first ‘real hangout’ at the DirecTV Beach Bowl, although they briefly crossed paths in 2010 at the SuperBowl.
Meghan Markle has a long-standing relationship with tennis ace Serena Williams (pictured at the Duchess’s wedding in 2018 between her husband Alexis Ohanian and Markle’s friend and Suits co-star Abigail Spencer)
The Duchess of Cambridge and Meghan Markle watch Williams in the 2019 Wimbledon final, which Simona Halep won
Meghan, who was starring on Suits at the time, wrote on her now defunct blog The Tig: ‘We hit it off immediately, taking pictures, laughing through the flag football game we were both playing in, and chatting not about tennis or acting, but about all the good old fashioned girlie stuff. So began our friendship’.
It comes after Serena defended Meghan following a backlash during the bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey.
In a statement on Twitter after the interview aired, Williams – who was among those to attend Meghan’s wedding to Prince Harry – described her as a ‘selfless friend’ who ‘teaches me every day what it means to be truly noble’.
‘Her words illustrate the pain and cruelty she’s experienced,’ Williams wrote.
‘I know first hand the sexism and racism institutions and the media use to vilify women and people of color to minimize us, to break us down and demonize us. We must recognize our obligation to decry malicious, unfounded gossip and tabloid journalism.
‘The mental health consequences of systemic oppression and victimization are devastating, isolating and all too often lethal.
‘I want Meghan’s daughter, my daughter and your daughter to live in a society that is driven by respect.
‘Keep in your memory the fruitage of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.’
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