Serena Williams Played a Match at the Palace Yesterday (but Not the One You Think)

Serena Williams knows a thing or two about royal residences. She celebrated Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s wedding at Windsor Castle and even visited their Frogmore Cottage estate to meet baby Archie shortly after his birth. So, when we heard she was playing a doubles match alongside her sister Venus Williams yesterday at the Palace Invitational, our interest was piqued.

Despite the royal-sounding name, however, the doubles match actually took place at the Lotte New York Palace, which has no affiliation with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and the rest of the lot. The event, which is in its fifth year, is simply a place for some of the biggest names in tennis to have a little fun before the US Open kicks off. 

Williams, 37, and her 39-year-old sister faced off in a game of badminton against Rafael Nadal. He was short a partner so Today Show host and event emcee Dylan Dreyer offered to act as a stand-in. 

venus and serena williams doubles palace invitational
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Since she’s pregnant, Dreyer opted not to play for too long and suggested someone else take her place. Then, in a surprise appearance, 15-year-old tennis prodigy Cori “Coco” Gauff (the youngest woman to ever win a Wimbledon match) offered to step in like it was no big deal. The crowd went wild and the game got fiercely competitive.

Ultimately, the Williams sisters took the trophy, although Nadal and Coco put up a big fight. The two doubles teams and Dreyer all posed for a photo together in their tennis bests after the match. (Venus wore her own athletic brand, EleVen, natch.)

serena venus williams palace invitational coco rafael nadal
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

It looks like two tennis queens just got their very own crowns. It’s just a shame they can’t wear them. 


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Lex is an LA native who's deeply obsessed with picnics, Slim Aarons, rosé, Hollywood history and Joan Didion. She joined PureWow in early 2017.