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One of the people on Donald Trump’s frequently contacted list completely shocked us

Thursday, tennis phenomenon Serena Williams was involved, albeit tangentially, in Donald Trumpas part of the ongoing “hush money” lawsuit, when his name appeared on a 2017 list of people Trump allegedly “frequently spoke to.” While this Excel spreadsheet of celebrities and bigwigs, compiled days after Trump’s inauguration in early 2017, by a longtime Trump Organization employee, primarily includes Trump’s known shoulder brushers — the famous QB Tom Brady, Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough, some members of the Trump family, his former lawyer and known “fixer” Michael Cohen, Bill O’Reilly, Jeanine Pirro: Williams’ appearance was a real headache. Was it a mistake? Or does THE Does Serena Williams really have a relationship with the former president that we simply didn’t know existed? And if so, is it (or was it) friendship bracelet – serious level? Let’s investigate.

So there is this list. What is it again?

As we all know, former President Donald Trump is currently on trial in New York on 34 counts of falsifying business records related to his alleged payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels, which was allegedly intended for silence about their alleged affair. Trump has pleaded not guilty and denied the affair and, therefore, the underlying charge that the payment was hush money intended to preserve Trump’s chances of winning the 2016 election.

Late last week, a former White House guard for the Trump administration, Madeleine Westerhout, testified. In her testimony, emails exchanged between her and Rhona Graff, Trump’s former personal assistant and longtime Trump Organization employee (who had previously testified), were shown. In those emails, Westerhout can be found asking Graff for a list “of people that (Trump) spoke to frequently.” This Excel spreadsheet features… a Serena Williams.

I see. So, were they really… friends? Do we have any evidence or knowledge that Williams and Trump were friends in the past?

Williams and Trump have certainly crossed paths on a few occasions that the public is aware of, although these instances are not necessarily proof of proximity and certainly do not answer the question “‘Frequently Contacted’…why?” In 2015, as the Washington Post put it at the time, Trump “invited his friend” Williams to play a bit of volley during a tennis match in honor of the opening of the new tennis center at Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia. During the center’s opening ceremony, Trump complimented Williams by praising her recent Vogue cover, calling her the “greatest” tennis player.

At the time, after being asked who she would vote for in 2016, Tennis Now reported that Williams claimed she would withdraw because she doesn’t “get involved in politics” and doesn’t vote, because she is a devout Jehovah’s Witness, a religious belief that supports political neutrality. As for how they know each other, Williams said at the time that she had met Trump “several times” because they both live in Palm Beach, Fla., and “everyone in Palm Beach knows itself.” … Of course!

Wait, did we all know that Serena Williams was a devout Jehovah’s Witness? Am I the only one who is completely stunned by this?!

Sorry to say it, but we all knew it.

Alright, so it was just me. Have Trump and Williams been connected in other instances?

Our first evidence lies in Trump’s failed attempt in 2000 to stage a next-generation Battle of the Sexes tennis match – originally contested between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs in 1973 – with Serena or Venus Williams volleying against John McEnroe. Apparently, this idea was inspired by McEnroe’s unsavory comments in a 2000 interview with The New Yorker, during which McEnroe claimed that any senior tour member or male college player could beat the younger Williams sisters. This comment particularly shocked a lot a feather, but apparently that only invigorated an opportunistic Trump, who reportedly offered McEnroe $1 million to play one of the sisters at his Atlantic City casino, the Trump Taj Mahal. According to Newsweek, Richard Williams, the sisters’ father, expressed disinterest, while Venus joked suggesting it was “not fair to put a 20-year-old against a 40-year-old.” (If this all sounds familiar, it’s because McEnroe said pretty much the exact same thing. Again in a 2017 NPR interview.)

Going back to 2015, we have a report that Williams danced with Trump at his New Year’s party. Trump tweeted his support for Williams after her Wimbledon victory in 2016, and again in 2020 after Williams beat Jessica Pegula at the ASB Classic, at which point Trump said Williams was “a great player and an even greater person.” (An educated guess?)

There have been a few other times when Williams and Trump’s names have been linked in the news, albeit superficially. For example, some headlines juxtaposed Williams’ support for Colin Kaepernick’s Nike campaign in 2018 with Trump’s criticism of him. Also in 2018, a reporter infamously asked Williams about some sexist comments Trump allegedly made in 2004. The reporter, Bill Simons of Inside Tennis, told Williams that Trump told Simons in a 2004 interview that he thought that the reason Williams could have lost Wimbledon to Maria Sharapova that year was because Williams was intimidated by the Russian player’s attractive appearance. Naturally, more people took issue with Simons asking Williams about the statement that Trump (allegedly) made.

OK, that’s definitely quite the timeline. But I still can’t say: are they friends? What could they possibly have been talking about during all these “frequent contacts”?

I think they are friends just as much as the person you see at those once-a-quarter business conferences, or the person you see at your regular HOA meetings. They’re neighbors, to begin with! And as sure as I am, that’s not the case everyone in Palm Beach know each other, I’m also sure that having a certain level of wealth and fame will inevitably put you in rooms full of people who are also at that level, or even beyond.

However, what does it mean, legally speaking, to be on this list? Should I be worried about Serena?

My intelligent colleagues who tirelessly cover this trial assure me that Williams will face no legal harm as a result of being on this list. The introduction of the document served to prove that specific people playing a role in the trial were involved, and the other appearances (like Tom Brady and Williams) are just amusing fodder for the gossip mill that pays me. I think I speak for a lot of people when I say: phew.

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