Meghan Markle was accused of jinxing Serena Williams last night as she watched the tennis star lose and fail to secure an historic 24th Grand Slam at the US Open, just months after she attended Williams’ defeat at Wimbledon.
The Duchess of Sussex, 38, was called a ‘bad luck charm,’ with fans citing the resounding loss at the Wimbledon final to Simona Halep and the year before at SW19 to Angelique Kerber.
The Royal was the centre of attention in New York as she watched with Williams’ mother Oracene Price but the pair were left disappointed as the former number one was beaten 6-3, 7-5, by Canadian Bianca Andreescu.
One Twitter user wrote: ‘Dear Meghan Markle please stop attending Serena’s finals matches. You are a jinx. Signed fans who are not her friends.’
Another said: ‘Meghan. Duchess. Love you so much. Really do. Are you a jinx though? Has she been at most of the losses?’
However, Meghan watched Williams win at Wimbledon in 2016, when the athlete defended her title against Kerber – at the time the Duchess was rumoured to be dating Harry.
Meghan’s last-minute 3,500-mile dash across the Atlantic to watch her close friend at Flushing Meadows comes as the Queen attended the Highland Games in Scotland as part of her annual family gathering at Balmoral.
Prince Harry and Meghan’s absence from the trip has left Her Majesty ‘hurt and disappointed,’ the Mail on Sunday understands, at a time when she likes to bring her friends and family together at her favourite time of the year.
The Queen is already said to be ‘baffled’ by Meghan and Harry’s inability to steer clear of PR calamities, and is concerned that her beloved grandson and his new wife are failing to listen to their team of advisers.
Meghan is said to have travelled on a commercial plane to New York after the couple’s recent extravagant private jet expenditure and carbon footprint caused controversy. A last-minute First Class return ticket to the Big Apple from London with British Airways costs over £6,000 for one person. She is understood to have travelled with at least one security officer, doubling that price.
It remains unclear where the Duchess is staying but when she travelled to New York for her baby shower she stayed at a £57,000-a-night penthouse in the Mark Hotel – though it is unlikely she stayed at the same hotel this week.
Meghan stood up to give her close friend a round of applause as Williams walked onto the court, and was sitting in the tennis star’s box along with her husband, Reddit co-founder, Alexis Ohanian.
Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, who is an avid fan of the game, and Serena’s sister Venus Williams were seated behind the Duchess, who appeared enthralled as the action on court got underway.
Meghan went for an understated summer look, wearing a denim shirt-dress from the American fashion retailer J.Crew which retails for a modest £96. To complete the outfit, she wore a light grey cardigan coat over it along with a pair of aviator shades.
Prior to the final sources close to the Williams team said they were anxious about Meghan’s eleventh hour decision to come and watch the star play.
‘Serena asked her coach about Meghan coming when she won last night and everyone is worried, as tennis players are very superstitious, and Serena lost when Meghan came to watch her at Wimbledon,’ a source told the New York Post on Friday. ‘[Williams’ coach] Patrick [Mouratoglou] keeps telling her, ‘Focus focus focus.’ The aim is getting her to win her 24th Grand Slam.’
The Sussexes have been under fire for taking private flights after previously claiming they will have a maximum of two children to avoid damaging the environment.
Meghan flew from London Heathrow, leaving Prince Harry and their four-month-old son Archie in Windsor – although a security team is said to be with her.
She is thought to have either boarded the 8.25am flight or the 9am flight from Heathrow.
The 8.25am flight left more than 30 minutes behind schedule. It had been set to arrive in New York for 11.05am local time, but instead arrived at 12.22pm.
‘It is a last-minute trip,’ a source told The Times on Friday. ‘Excited to support her friend, and then come back.’
Williams, who has been denied the milestone in four slam finals since claiming her last major title at the Australian Open in 2017, was gracious in defeat.
‘Bianca played an unbelievable match,’ she said.
‘If anyone else could win the U.S. Open – except for Venus – I’m glad it’s Bianca,’ she said with a laugh, referring to her older sister who had cheered her on from the players’ box alongside the Duchess of Sussex.
Meghan’s latest trip comes after she flew with Prince Harry to Ibiza by private jet on August 6 for Meghan’s 38th birthday. Days later, they flew to Nice on a $18 (£15) million Cessna plane described as the ‘pinnacle of luxury’.
Sir Elton John said he paid for their flights to his holiday home and made an ‘appropriate contribution’ to a carbon footprint fund to offset the environmental impact.
Earlier this week, Harry defended his use of private jets, claiming he needed them for his family’s safety – despite urging the public to cut their carbon footprint.
He took a scheduled flight to Amsterdam this week to promote Travalyst, a scheme for environmentally-friendly tourism.
While details of her trip are under wraps, the Duchess was seen heading into Modo Yoga with a friend in the trendy West Village neighbourhood of Manhattan on Friday.
Meghan joined a surprisingly full class of up to 60 people at the eco-conscious studio, which specialises in hot yoga classes.
‘There were lots of sweet, knowing smiles’ among those in the room, a source told People.com, with everyone respecting the duchess’s privacy.
Meghan stayed up to watch the semi-final, which ended at 1.30am on Friday UK time, and is thought to have boarded a flight in London at about 8.30am.
It is not yet known where in New York Meghan is staying and who she is staying with, however she is thought to have flown first class for the two-day trip across the Atlantic.
The Duchess, who also watched Williams at Wimbledon in July, flew out following the row over she and her husband Prince Harry taking four trips by private jet in 11 days last month.
She was said to have been thinking about travelling across the Atlantic to attend the final at Arthur Ashe Stadium since Williams won her quarter-final on Wednesday.
This is Meghan’s first trip to New York since her baby shower, which Williams helped organise in February, when she partied for five nights at a £57,000-a-night penthouse with her celebrity friends.
The party, which caused disquiet in Britain due to its eye-watering estimated total bill of $405,000 (£330,000), was hosted by Williams and her long-standing friend Jessica Mulroney.
Meghan flew to and from the US on that occasion on a private jet with her close friend Amal Clooney, who paid for the 13-hour round trip which cost $16,000 (£13,000) an hour.
Meghan first met Williams at a Super Bowl party in 2010, and their friendship is thought to have quickly evolved through frequent phone calls and texts.
After becoming Prince Harry’s girlfriend and then a Duchess, Meghan is said to have leaned on Williams for mentoring on how to handle the media.
Williams, who attended their wedding in May 2018, said last year they had ‘known each other for a long time, but we really are relying on each other a lot recently’.
The couple, who live at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, enjoyed a week-long trip to Ibiza and a long weekend in the south of France with Sir Elton last month.
Their son Archie, who was born at Portland Hospital in London on May 6 is seventh in line to the throne.
Buckingham Palace also formally confirmed that the Sussexes would take baby Archie with them to Africa as their first official tour as a family.
Fellow mother Meghan was cheering Williams on in a show of solidarity, as the tennis ace has battled for form following a series of defeats following her pregnancy.
Williams was 17 when she won her first Grand Slam singles title in 1999 at the US Open.
Speaking before the game began, Williams, who appeared nervous, claimed: ‘It’s incredible to be honest out there, 33 is a lot of times to be in the final
‘Honestly it’s unbelievable I would have never written or expected it. Everything is a bonus and I am just so excited,’
Williams, who is mother to two-year-old Alexis, wore a Nike lilac coloured two piece suit with her hair tied back in her trademark bun.
Williams beat Ukranian Elina Svitolina in the semi-finals on Thursday and was vying to win her 24th career Grand Slam title, which would tie her with Margaret Court for the most in tennis history.
Andreescu had never advanced past the second round of a Grand Slam prior to the 2019 U.S. Open. The 19-year-old Canadian defeated Belinda Bencic in straight sets in the semifinals on Thursday.
The 37-year-old Williams has lost all three major finals she has reached since returning from giving birth, including to Naomi Osaka in Flushing Meadows last year.
That match is best remembered for Williams’ arguments with chair umpire Carlos Ramos.
But the fearless Andreescu pressured Williams from the outset on Saturday night, electing to receive after winning the coin toss and immediately breaking her childhood idol.
Shouting ‘come on’ after winning key points, Andreescu’s vicious forehands kept Williams on the back foot while costly errors, including a double fault on set point in the first, put the American in an early hole.
With her back against the wall trailing 5-1 and facing championship point, Williams mounted a spirited comeback to draw level at 5-5, leading to deafening roars from the packed crowd in the biggest tennis stadium in the world.
Yet Andreescu, who covered her ears at times, regained her steely composure to cross the finish line with an emphatic forehand winner, her 19th of the match.
For Williams, her normally trusty serve proved her undoing.
She only managed to put 44 percent of her first serves in play and her nine aces were almost offset by eight double faults, three of which came on break points.
Andreescu was the sharper of the pair, committing almost half as many unforced errors as Williams and thumping down five aces of her own.
While a fierce and fiery competitor on the court, Andreescu apologised to the disappointed crowd for beating the home favourite.
‘I know you guys wanted Serena to win. I’m so sorry,’ she said.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Leah McDonald and Ross Ibbetson