To kick off the project, the Duchess of Sussex sits down with good friend and tennis champion Serena Williams. The two discuss the hurdles that come with motherhood and female ambition—both topics that hit close to home for Meghan and Williams.
Below, see the five biggest takeaways from the episode.
Meghan makes a suggestion about life as a royal.
To start off her episode, the duchess reveals that she spent most of her formative years at the Immaculate Heart school in Los Angeles and was raised as a strong feminist. Ambition always seemed like a good thing, she says—that is until she started dating Prince Harry and joined the British royal family.
“This message to me and my classmates was clear: Our futures as young women were limitless. Ambition? That was the whole point!” she says. “So I don’t ever remember personally feeling the negative connotation behind the word ambitious until I started dating my now husband. And um, apparently, ambition is a terrible, terrible thing, for a woman that is, according to some.”
She adds that since she “felt the negativity behind it,” it has been “really hard to un-feel it.” Meghan adds, “I can’t unsee it, either, in the millions of girls and women who make themselves smaller—so much smaller—on a regular basis.”
Meghan recalls a scary incident with son Archie.
When speaking of the difficulties of being a mother, Meghan recalls a time in 2019 when she and Prince Harry traveled to South Africa and had to leave baby Archie with the nanny while they attended an official engagement. She shares that while they were out, Archie’s nursery caught on fire, but, luckily, Archie wasn’t harmed.
Describing their nanny, Lauren, Meghan says she was “in floods of tears.”
She continues, “She was supposed to put Archie down for his nap, and she just said, ‘You know what? Let me just go get a snack downstairs.’ And she was from Zimbabwe, and we loved that she would always tie him on her back with a mud cloth. And her instinct was like, ‘Let me just bring him with me before I put him down.’ 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.”
Meghan says that despite how scary the moment was for her and Harry, they had to go to another official engagement. “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,'” she says. “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. And part of the humanizing and the breaking through of these labels and these archetypes and these boxes that we’re put into is having some understanding on the human moments behind the scenes that people might not have any awareness of and to give each other a break. Because we did; we had to leave our baby. And even though we were being moved to another place afterwards, we still had to leave him and go and do another official engagement.”
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Meghan reveals she’s known about Serena’s retirement for a while.
“I mean, you and I were texting the other day, and I told you, I was like, ‘Oh, my God, it’s out. It’s out. The world knows. But how does it feel?'” Meghan says about Williams announcing her retirement news.
“It’s out. Well, you know, I’ve struggled with it for a while. … But yeah, it’s weird because you have to think about it, I’ve been doing this since I was, since I can remember, and I’m 40 years old now,” the tennis pro replies. “So it’s like my whole entire being and my whole entire life has been for one purpose. So to kind of not do that anymore, it’s exciting, right? I’m really looking forward to it. As you know, I’m honestly, I can’t wait to wake up one day and literally never have to worry about performing on such a high level and, you know, you know, competing. And I’ve actually never felt that.”
Meghan agrees and congratulates her friend on her “new chapter.”
Meghan recalls making a “difficult” decision.
Speaking of Williams’s exit from tennis, Meghan says, “It’s a new—of course, it has layers. I can understand, like I think most people can, we all have our own version of it, where you toil over this decision, you pray over this, you cry over a decision, and then you make the decision.”
She adds that both she and Harry can completely relate to Williams’s struggle. “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 says. “It’s a hard decision. And it takes a lot of thought and a lot of counsel and a lot of support to just go, ‘Uh, uh, uh,’ and then just make the choice.”
Though Meghan does not elaborate on her comment, it comes two years after she and husband Prince Harry made the tough decision to step down as senior royals in order to lead a private family life in California.
Meghan talks about “pain behind closed doors.”
While recalling the first time they met (at a sports game in 2014), Williams tells Meghan that the two have “a lot in common.”
“I know—so much,” Meghan says. “I mean, the things people think and the things that people don’t. … But in our friendship, when you have to see things that are mischaracterizing of me, but you experience behind closed doors the pain that I’m going through, and vice versa.”
The duchess adds that that’s likely true of most female friendships. “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, you know,” she says.
“Mmmhmm,” Williams replies.
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.