In her 18th appearance at Wimbledon (ten months after having her first child, Olympia), tennis star Serena Williams has worked through several top-seeded players to make it to the finals. This is her tenth appearance in the finals, and if she wins it will be her eighth Wimbledon victory, excluding doubles’ matches.
While Williams is poised to make history, President Donald Trump has been making waves in the UK, as well, in his first visit to the nation since becoming president. During his week in the UK, Trump met with the Queen (breaking protocol along the way), insulted Prime Minister Theresa May in an interview with the tabloid The Sun, and was followed by one of the more creative forms of peaceful protestation in recent history: a massive Trump baby balloon.
Though Trump hasn’t made an appearance at Wimbledon yet, rumors have remained that he could pop in at any moment, given his close proximity.
Williams and Trump are shared residents of Palm Beach, and have played a tennis volley on at least one occasion. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Williams Didn’t Vote for Trump- But Not For the Reasons You’d Think
Though Williams has been asked about her opinion of Trump on several occasions by reporters, she’s been notoriously tight-lipped about her political beliefs. In fact, she didn’t vote in the 2016 presidential election at all due to her religious beliefs.
As a Jehovah’s Witness, Williams has maintained that her religion prevents her from getting involved in politics at all. “I don’t vote,” she told reporters in 2016. “It goes back to my religion.”
According to JW.org, Jehovah’s Witnesses “do not lobby, vote for political parties or candidates, run for government office, or participate in any action to change governments,” but they do make a point to “respect the authority of the governments under which we live.”
“I don’t involve myself in politics,” she has said on another occasion, though she was quick to add of Trump, “but I think it is important we should pass the message of love, as opposed to hate.”
2. Trump Once Claimed Williams Was Intimidated by Williams’ Good Looks
In a now infamous interview, Trump told a reporter in 2004 that he supposed Williams might be intimidated by rival Maria Sharapova (who went on to win Wimbledon that year) due to her “supermodel good looks”.
Though Williams made little comment at the time, the comment was resurfaced 14 years later at the French Open in 2018, Williams was asked to discuss the exchange again by a reporter who opened his line of questioning by saying, “We’re in this together, baby.”
The reporter continued by rehashing what Trump had said, then asking Williams, “Have you ever been intimidated by anyone on a tennis court, and what are your thoughts on the occurrence?”
Williams gave a professional, clipped response: “I honestly don’t have any thoughts about that. I can’t say I have been intimidated by anyone. That’s all. That’s it.”
Williams has been engaged in a media-fueled “rivalry” with Sharapova for over a decade, though many have begun to describe it as a “non-rivalry” because of Williams’ significantly greater percentage of victories.
3. Trump Offered Tennis Star John McEnroe $1 Million to Play Williams, But He Declined
In an interview with Graham Bensinger, John McEnroe revealed that before he ran for president, Trump had once sent McEnroe a letter with a formal offer to pay him to play Williams.
“[He sent the letter] after Serena and Venus had started talking about they could beat a lot of guys,” McEnroe said. “I think Serena and Venus are great, but I’m not going to sit here and say I can’t beat them.”
McEnroe continued, “So, suddenly I get this envelope and it’s from Donald Trump, who’s, you know, promoter galore…and he said,’Dear John, I want to offer you one million dollars to play Serena or Venus.'”
McEnroe went on to say that his kids were less confident that he could beat either of the Williams sisters. “I’m like, God, I don’t even have my kids on my side…somehow it’s me [that he chose], the old fart.”
Though McEnroe didn’t clarify whether he officially responded to the letter, he and Williams have yet to play one another in a match.
4. Trump Has Tweeted About Williams on More Than One Occasion
Though Trump’s comments about Williams being potentially intimidated by Williams are less than complimentary, he has gone out of his way to acknowledge Williams’ success on the tennis court on at least two occasions.
Trump even went on to say that he agreed with John McEnroe (though he hasn’t commented on McEnroe’s story about the offer to play her), saying, “she’s the greatest women’s tennis player of all time”
Trump also called Williams a “special player” after her win at the Olympics. He has yet to comment on her unprecedented success and return to Wimbledon finals less than a year after giving birth.
5. Williams Was Less Than Enthused About the Idea of Trump Watching Her Play at the Wimbledon Semifinals
During her press conference after winning the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, Williams was asked how she would feel about the president making an appearance to her semifinals match at Wimbledon.
“I feel like he has the right to do whatever he wants to do,” said Williams. “If he wants to come to a Wimbledon final, he has that right.”
John Isner, the other American headed to the semifinals (who was eventually defeated by Kevin Anderson in a six hour marathon match), was far more enthusiastic about the idea of Trump coming.
“I’d love to have Trump come watch me,” he said. “That would be awesome.”
Trump has yet to make an appearance at Wimbledon.