Kate and Meghan look on as Simona Halep is crowned Wimbledon champion

Serena Williams crashed to a rapid defeat in the women’s singles final at Wimbledon as her close friend the Duchess of Sussex watched on from the royal box.

The duchess, dressed in a shirt and high-waisted blue and white skirt, was seen applauding the tennis action on Centre Court on Saturday afternoon.

Meghan sat alongside her sister-in-law the Duchess of Cambridge, with the pair smiling and chatting with Kate’s sister Pippa Matthews in their seats in the box’s front row.

After Williams crumbled to a straight sets defeat, both Kate and Meghan joined the crowd in a standing ovation for the new champion Simona Halep.

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Kate was seen congratulating the Romanian on her win as she came off court, before Halep showed off her trophy from a Centre Court balcony to the crowd waiting outside.

Williams and Meghan have grown close in recent years, with the 23-time grand slam champion attending the duchess’s wedding in May last year.

This is the second time the duchess has watched the American superstar at the tournament in 2019, after making a low-key visit to catch Williams’s second-round match.

Both Meghan, who is currently on maternity leave, and Kate watched the Wimbledon women’s final in 2018, which Serena also lost in straight sets.

Simona Halep
Simona Halep

It was the first official engagement Meghan and Kate had carried out together, without their partners.

Neither of the dukes of Cambridge and Sussex were seen at the final on Saturday and there was no sign of Harry and Meghan’s new baby Archie.

The two duchesses arrived separately to SW19, with Kate first meeting some female junior players in her role as patron of the All England Lawn and Tennis Club.

Kate meets junior players at Wimbledon
Kate meets junior players at Wimbledon

For Williams, who is married to Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of the Reddit website, Saturday’s defeat is her third grand slam final loss since giving birth in September 2017.

During the tournament the tennis superstar spoke about how she has made sure she spent time with her daughter Olympia despite her busy playing schedule.

Olympia made a surprise appearance during her mother’s quarter-final post-match conference earlier in the Championships.

The 22-month-old had to be distracted with a yellow butterfly book while her mother answered questions from reporters.

Serena Williams after her defeat to Simona Halep
Serena Williams after her defeat to Simona Halep

Last week, Swiss great Roger Federer revealed he had recently played tennis with Kate’s son Prince George during a visit to her parents’ home in Bucklebury, Berkshire.

Williams was later asked if she might be giving a few tennis pointers to baby Archie one day.

“I’m actually working on Olympia’s game. Maybe she can give tips to him. She’ll be his older sister,” she said.

“We like to do a lot of sports with Olympia. Actually she likes soccer more, so we’ll see.”

Prime Minister Theresa May was among the famous faces watching the action with the duchesses from the royal box on Saturday.

Prime Minister Theresa May with her husband Philip
Prime Minister Theresa May with her husband Philip

Poldark star Aidan Turner, actress Lily James and Doctor Who’s Jodie Whittaker were also spotted among the Wimbledon crowds.