Kelly Rowland was at the US Open when Serena Williams got into a now-infamous argument with an umpire during the women's final earlier this month, and she was there, too, for her longtime friend in the aftermath of the controversy.
Rowland recently sat down with AOL's Gibson Johns at TJ Maxx's Maxx You Project workshop last week, where she discussed her friendship with Serena and the importance of being honest with one another, even during the toughest of times.
"We’re honest with each other," she told us exclusively. "She’s honest with me in those times, as well. I tell her that I’m here for her if she wants to talk, and sometimes we might not want to talk about that. I'm here to have fun and be silly and be serious and provide you with the best wisdom that I possibly can. Or [to] change the subject. If you feel like talking about it, go for it. I’m just here to listen."
Serena's contentious loss in the final of the US Open came almost exactly a year after she welcomed her first daughter, Alexis Olympia, with husband Alexis Ohanian amid life-threatening health complications. By March of this year -- just six months later -- the all-time great tennis player was back on the court competing professionally.
As Rowland explained, she remains in awe of her friend's stunning return to the tour.
"I watched Serena get herself back into the game in months, and that just makes you clench your heart," she gushed. "I was just so proud. I’ll never forget it. Our phone calls usually take a down time, because I know she’s focused and we all do that for each other, but with Rena, it was like watching it and feeling it all out, I could sense she was going to win. Watching all of that, I was like, 'Who does this after having a child?!' It’s superhuman strength. Her willpower is unlike anybody else's."
Kelly and Serena are part of a tight-knit group of high-profile women that are consistently supporting and praising one another amid their respective professional endeavors, including actress La La Anthony and the singer Ciara, all three of whom were at Serena's wedding in New Orleans last fall.
It's her friendship with Ciara that surprises her the most, Rowland explained, because they didn't become friends until years into their individual singing careers. She blames that on the music industry, which has historically pitted solo female singers against one another, discouraging friendships with so-called competition.
"It’s so funny, because Ciara and I became friends when we became mothers," she recalled. "We said to each other, 'I don’t know why we haven’t been friends all this time!' It was so easy, you know what I mean? She is definitely one of my favorite people. But, yeah, I think it’s because we know who we are as individuals. Usually, the industry will put female singers up against each other, and I just don’t feel that with her. I want the best for her, and I want her to have great records and videos. Because we’re able to embrace our own selves, we’re able to embrace each other, and I love that."