Yet more proof of the power of female friendship.
It has been a tough few weeks for Serena Williams. On 8 September, the tennis legend faced three code violations during her match against Naomi Osaka in the US Open women’s final – code violations which she and many others have argued would not have been applied to a male player.
As a result, the 23-time Grand Slam winner has been fined $4,000 for the coach instructions, $3,000 for smashing her racquet, and $10,000 for “verbal abuse” at Ramos – not to mention seen her likeness ridiculed in a widely condemned (and “racist”) cartoon.
Speaking about the incident during a recent episode of Australian TV’s The Sunday Project, Williams said: “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.”
Thankfully, the tennis ace has found solace in her fans – not to mention the support of her loved ones for support. And, in the same interview, she explained that she has been heavily “relying” on one of her closest friends in particular: Meghan Markle.
“We were actually just texting each other this morning,” she said.
For those who are not already aware, Williams first met Markle met at a charity football game in 2014, and the duo have remained in touch ever since.
Indeed, in a Q&A with William posted to Markle’s lifestyle website The Tig, the soon-to-be royal dished on their friendship, saying: “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.
“So began our friendship […] and she quickly became a confidante I would text when I was travelling, the friend I would rally around for her tennis matches, and the down-to-earth chick I was able to grab lunch with just a couple weeks ago in Toronto.
Markle added: “We are both the same age, have a penchant for hot sauces, and adore fashion, but what connects us more than those things is perhaps our belief in exceeding expectations – our endless ambition.”
With this in mind, it makes sense, then, that the duo give each other advice about their place in the media spotlight.
Speaking to The Sunday Project, Williams said: “We have known each other for a long time, but we really kind of are relying on each other right a lot recently.”
It is an undoubtedly smart idea for Williams to turn to her BFF during her hour of need. After all, studies have shown that chats with our girlfriends are not just useful when it comes to elevating our moods: they are also vital to our health and may well help prolong our life.
As author and a world-renowned expert on stress and health Shelley E. Taylor tells Positively Beautiful, women are genetically hard-wired for friendship as a means of coping with stress, theorising that a common female stress response is what she calls “tend and befriend.”
Taylor adds that our evolutionary heritage suggests women who formed strong bonds with one another were more apt to survive and that, over time, women have learned to turn to one another for support and solace and have thus become crucial to one another in times of stress.
This may have something to do with the fact that oxytocin, known as a calming hormone, is released during stress, enhancing the ability to nurture and be nurtured.
“Because oestrogen increases oxytocin’s effects, it’s likely to be more important in women’s stress response than men’s,” Taylor says.
All hail the power of female friendship.