Here's How Serena Williams Really Feels About Meghan Markle

The debut episode of the long-awaited podcast "Archetypes" dropped earlier this week, and the very first guest was none other than tennis star Serena Williams, with whom Meghan Markle has had a close relationship for years. Entitled "The Misconception of Ambition," their wide-ranging chat covered how women are unfairly criticized, particularly if they're in the public eye, simply for pursuing their goals without apology. 

The Duchess of Sussex even pointed to how she'd been demonized as a social-climbing gold-digger by the British tabloids after getting together with Prince Harry. Elsewhere, the duo discussed their differing experiences with pregnancy and how tough it is to be a working mother in the spotlight. Listeners absolutely ripped Meghan's first podcast apart, with many denouncing the former actor's alleged desperation.

As the Daily Mail put it, "This bizarre, saccharine and faintly queasy schmooze-fest between Meghan and 'my dear friend Serena' (as we hear over and over again) tells us next to nothing at all about the making of Serena Williams's towering ambition." Moreover, The Spectator claimed the celebrated athlete barely spoke, with Meghan dominating the conversation. Now, though, Williams is making it clear where they really stand.

The tennis icon still counts the Duchess of Sussex as a good friend

Amid swirling controversy about her appearance on Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex's "Archetypes" podcast, Serena Williams took to Instagram to share a photo of the two long-time friends posing alongside Williams' daughter, Olympia. She captioned the post, "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."

Newsweek reported royal biographer Tom Bower previously claimed that he'd approached the tennis icon to take part in his bombshell book, "Revenge: Meghan, Harry and the War Between the Windsors," but she refused to speak to him. According to Bower, "Serena Williams denied she was Meghan's friend but just an acquaintance." She would only provide "an enigmatic quote: 'You've got to be who you are, Meghan. You can't hide.'"

It's worth noting that, per Insider, Bower himself acknowledged his 80-plus sources mostly chose to remain anonymous. He also relied extensively on previously-written pieces, including negative coverage from British tabloids and even Meghan's estranged sister, Samantha Markle's, book, "The Diary of Princess Pushy's Sister." Regardless, Bower confidently railed during a radio interview, "What I write is the truth" (via Newsweek). 

Serena Williams has made it clear how close she and Meghan Markle are

Earlier this month, Serena Williams confirmed her relationship with Meghan Markle is as strong as ever during an interview with Vogue, while she looked back at some of her most iconic style moments. When Williams was shown a shot of her attending Meghan's 2018 wedding to Prince Harry, she gushed, "I love this image, this is at the royal wedding when my friend Meghan married Harry."

E! News confirms the famous ladies first met all the way back in 2014 and, in a blog posted to The Tig, her now-defunct lifestyle site, the Duchess of Sussex shared how, "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 girly stuff." Thus, "So began our friendship."

Moreover, Glamour points out how Williams defended her friend online following the Sussexes' explosive Oprah Winfrey interview, describing Meghan as "selfless" and somebody who "leads by example — with empathy and compassion." The retired athlete added, "Her words illustrate the pain and cruelty she's experienced," acknowledging her similar experience as a woman of color in the spotlight.