Melinda French Gates has opened up about her “unbelievably painful” divorce from Bill Gates.
Melinda, 58, and Bill, 66, married in 1994 and were together for 27 years before announcing their divorce in May 2021.
Speaking to Fortune Magazine in a new interview, Melinda said: “I had some reasons I just couldn’t stay in that marriage anymore.
“But the odd thing about COVID is that it gave me the privacy to do what I needed to do.
“It’s unbelievably painful, in innumerable ways, but I had the privacy to get through it.”
Melinda said she and Bill’s three children — Jennifer, 25, Rory, 23, and Phoebe, 19 — were her “main concern” during the separation.
The former couple also founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation together in 2000 and continued to run it together following their separation. Melinda Gates credits this for helping her process her emotions.
She said: “I kept working with the person I was moving away from, and I needed to show up and be my best self every single day. So even though I might be crying at 9 a.m. and then have to be on a video conference at 10 a.m. with the person I’m leaving, I have to show up and be my best.
“I learned as a leader that I could do it. It reminded me that the foundation calls me to be my best.”
French Gates told Gayle King in an interview with “CBS Mornings” earlier this year that she shed “a lot of tears for many days” and was “grieving a loss” following the divorce.
In 2021, it was revealed that Bill had a lengthy affair with a Microsoft employee in 2000 and that he reportedly asked out several women in the office while he was married.