Serena Williams’s Dad Told Her Hour Before Her Wedding That He Couldn’t Walk Her Down The Aisle

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On May 19, former actress Meghan Markle will walk down the aisle and wed Prince Harry at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle. But it’s been officially confirmed that despite previous plans, she will be making that walk without her father, Thomas Markle, Sr., by her side. He underwent heart surgery this week after suffering a heart attack and won’t be able to make the trip.

“Sadly, my father will not be attending our wedding,” she said in a statement through Kensington Palace. “I have always cared for my father and hope he can be given the space he needs to focus on his health.”

Someone who can relate to making that long walk alone, and for similar reasons, is Serena Williams. A friend of Markle’s, who is set to attend the wedding on Saturday, Serena revealed in episode three of her HBO special, Being Serena, that she had to walk alone during her November wedding to Alexis Ohanian in New Orleans. Her father text her an hour before the wedding and said that because health struggles had put a dent in his confidence, he just couldn’t escort her.

“I think I got the text from my dad an hour before the wedding was supposed to start. He had a suit. And I know he was really excited. But then he wrote me and said, ‘Serena, I don’t want you to be mad at me, but I just can’t walk you down the aisle. I’m not myself anymore. I’m just too nervous,'” she said. “And I wrote right back and I said, ‘Daddy, it’s ok. If you don’t want to come to the wedding at all, that’s ok too. I’m not going to be upset with you about it. So I don’t want you to be upset about it.’ Maybe a lot of daughters wouldn’t react the same way, but I know the struggles he’s had these last few years. His health is better now, but I know he still doesn’t feel like himself. If he doesn’t want to be out there in front of a lot of people, I completely understand.”

Richard suffered from a stroke in 2016, which left him dealing with memory loss and other effects. Since then, he’s worked to get back to feeling like himself, though it obviously hasn’t been easy.

“Our family knows what we have,” Serena said about his decision and what people might have thought about it. “We just want each other to be happy. “That’s what matters. Nothing’s ever going to change that.”

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