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Serena Williams checked into a hotel ahead of the eve of the US Open finals that could see her tie the grand slam record and is due to be attended by royal Meghan Markle.

The former world number one, 37, walked into the plush Lotte New York Palace, in Midtown, Manhattan, with two-year-old daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. clinging to her side.

She’s due to be watched by the Duchess of Sussex who arrived an hour late into New York on a ‘last-minute’ commercial flight to catch the clash on Saturday against Canadian Bianca Andreescu.

Should she win, it’ll be her first grand slam title since the Australian Open in 2017 – after which she took a year out of the game to have her daughter with Reddit co-founder husband Alexis Ohanian. 

Fellow mother Meghan will be cheering her on in a show of solidarity, as Williams battles back to form following a series of defeats following her pregnancy – recently losing out in the final of Wimbledon in London.

Williams, who was wearing a pink and white Nike jacket, appeared to be accompanied by at least one member of security as she unloaded her vehicle outside Lotte New York Palace. 

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Serena Williams could be seen carrying two-year-old daughter Alexis on her side as she entered the Lotte New York Palace hotel. She was reported to be ‘nervous’ ahead of the big match that could see her equal the grand slam record

Williams (center) was seen unloading the car with a push chair and bags ahead of tomorrow’s final due to air at 4.00pm New York time 

Williams fought off concerns from her sports coach who was allegedly not keen on the Duchess attending, according to a close source. Tennis which the person claimed is a very superstitious sport, led the coach to not want Markle there as Williams lost last time she watched from the stands 

Williams spent some quality time with her daughter before the big game tomorrow. She was seen unloading Alexis, two, a pram and bags with her team at the hotel

Williams beat Ukranian Elina Svitolina in the semi-finals on Thursday and will play Andreescu on Saturday at 4.00pm New York time.   

On Friday morning, Markle flew from London Heathrow, leaving Prince Harry and their four-month-old son Archie in Windsor – although a security team is said to be with her.

She is thought to have either boarded the 8.25am flight or the 9am flight from Heathrow. 

The 8.25am flight left more than 30 minutes behind schedule. It had been set to arrive in New York for 11.05am local time, but instead arrived at 12.22pm. 

The Duchess’ trip also comes as aides insisted Meghan and Harry were too busy working on charitable projects to join the Queen at Balmoral this weekend.

Despite the long flight and a stressful delay for Meghan, sources have claimed that Williams’ coaches aren’t massively thrilled that the Duchess has come to support her friend, as she could distract her from the game in hand.

They are said to be concerned due to the fact that Williams lost when Meghan attended her last match at Wimbledon.

A source told Page Six: ‘Serena asked her coach about Meghan coming when she won last night and everyone is worried, as tennis players are very superstitious, and Serena lost when Meghan came to watch her at Wimbledon.’

The source added that Williams’ aides were concerned that the trip was a publicity stunt.

However, Williams is said to ‘adore’ Meghan and ‘wouldn’t have a word of it’.  

It is not yet known where in New York Meghan will be staying and who she will be staying with, however she is thought to have flown first class for the two-day trip across the Atlantic.    

It comes just days after her husband spoke out about sustainable travel at an environmentally-friendly tourism event in Amsterdam. 

And last month he is understood to have given a passionate barefoot speech about saving the planet at Google’s $19.6million (£16million) climate change summit in Sicily.

Meghan’s 7,000 mile journey to New York and back is expected to generate 986kg of carbon dioxide. 

She will cheer on Williams, 37, against Bianca Andreescu in Queens tomorrow as the former world number one again tries to equal the all-time grand slam record.

The Duchess, who also watched Williams at Wimbledon in July, flew out following the row over the eco-warrior couple taking four trips by private jet in 11 days last month.  

Meghan and Serena Williams laugh together at the DirecTV Beach Bowl in New York in 2014

Prince Harry and Meghan are pictured stepping on board a private jet at Nice Airport on August 17 after spending time with Sir Elton John at his mansion on the French Riviera

Serena Williams celebrates during her US Open tennis semi-final victory in New York yesterday

Meghan is expected to return to Britain on Sunday. A source told The Times: ‘It is a last-minute trip. Excited to support her friend, and then come back.’  

She is said to have been thinking about travelling across the Atlantic to attend the final at Arthur Ashe Stadium since Williams won her quarter-final on Wednesday.

This is Meghan’s first trip to New York since her baby shower, which Williams helped organize in February, when she partied for five nights at a $70,000-a-night penthouse with her celebrity friends. 

The party, which caused disquiet in Britain due to its eye-watering estimated total bill of $405,000, was hosted by Williams and her long-standing friend Jessica Mulroney.

Meghan flew to and from the US on that occasion on a private jet with her close friend Amal Clooney, who paid for the 13-hour round trip which cost $16,000 an hour.

Meghan first met Williams at a Super Bowl party in 2010, and their friendship is thought to have quickly evolved through frequent phone calls and texts. 

After becoming Prince Harry’s girlfriend and then a Duchess, Meghan is said to have leaned on Williams for mentoring on how to handle the media.

Williams, who attended their wedding in May 2018, said last year they had ‘known each other for a long time, but we really are relying on each other a lot recently’.

The couple, who live at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, enjoyed a week-long trip to Ibiza and a long weekend in the south of France with Sir Elton John last month. 

The Sussexes have been under fire for taking private flights after previously claiming they will have a maximum of two children to avoid damaging the environment.

Their son Archie, who was born at Portland Hospital in London on May 6 and is seventh in line to the throne, is four months old today. 

Buckingham Palace also formally confirmed that the Sussexes would take baby Archie with them to Africa as their first official tour as a family. 

Some Twitter users criticised Meghan’s decision to fly again today, with one saying: ‘Another flight, for the few not the many, hey Meghan.’

Another tweeted: ‘Commercial! Thought Hazz (Harry) was concerned for his family’s safety that the little poppets had to travel private.’

Royal expert Robert Jobson told MailOnline: ‘The Duchess has a fashion launch next Thursday and is then going to South Africa on a historic first trip with Archie.

‘She clearly feels it is fair enough to take a social trip to see her friend play in a tennis final before stepping back into the public spotlight of official engagements.’

There had been rumors that the Sussexes would be joining the monarch at Balmoral in the Scottish Highlands this week with their baby son Archie.

But while most of the Royal Family have made the long trek up to Aberdeenshire, Harry and Meghan actually have no plans to fly to Scotland at all.

Sources close to the couple insist that the decision should not be seen as a ‘snub’ – and Harry only rarely goes up to the Queen’s Deeside estate nowadays.

They flew to Ibiza by private jet on August 6 for Meghan’s 38th birthday. Days later, they flew to Nice on a $18million Cessna plane described as the ‘pinnacle of luxury’.

Sir Elton said he paid for their flights to his holiday home and made an ‘appropriate contribution’ to a carbon footprint fund to offset the environmental impact.  

Earlier this week, Harry defended his use of private jets, claiming he needed them for his family’s safety – despite urging the public to cut their carbon footprint. 

He took a scheduled flight to Amsterdam this week to promote Travalyst, a scheme for environmentally-friendly tourism.

** Did you see Meghan on a plane today? Email tips@dailymail.com, Terri-Ann.Williams@mailonline.co.uk or call 020 3615 762 ** 

Speaking at the event, the prince refused to apologise for his recent private flights, saying: ‘I spend 99 percent of my life travelling the world by commercial.

‘Occasionally there needs to be an opportunity [to fly privately] based on a unique circumstance to ensure that my family are safe – it’s as simple as that. 

‘For me it’s about balance. It’s not a decision I would want to take, but if I have to do that, I will ensure that I balance out the impact that I have.’ 

Harry dismissed concerns over his carbon footprint by insisting that he ‘offsets’ his emissions by donating to renewable energy incentives and planting trees. 

The row was worsened for the couple when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were seen flying with their children on a budget flight from Norfolk to Scotland.

Decisions about the most effective, economical and safe way to travel are taken by a royal visits committee.

Despite his comments, analysis of Harry and Meghan’s known international flights since their wedding shows six of the ten return trips they took were by private jet.

Harry dismissed concerns over his carbon footprint by insisting that he ‘offsets’ his emissions by donating to renewable energy incentives and planting trees.

Meghan’s visit to watch Williams at Wimbledon in July was marred over a row that saw a tennis fan told off by her security team for attempting to take a selfie with her.

The Duchess of Sussex watches Williams at the Wimbledon Championships in July 2019

The fan, Hasan Hasanov, said he was actually trying to get a picture of himself with Roger Federer in the background and did not realise Meghan was in front of him. 

On Thursday, Williams steamrollered Elina Svitolina 6-3 6-1 in the semi-final to reach her fourth major final since becoming a mother.

She lost the previous three, including two Wimbledon finals, meaning she remains tantalisingly one short of Margaret Court’s record tally of 24 grand slams.

Next Thursday, the Duchess will carry out her first official public engagement since the birth of her son – launching a high street clothing range in aid of charity.

Meghan will proudly show off the collection created by Jigsaw, John Lewis and Partners, Marks and Spencer and her designer friend Misha Nonoo.

Since the birth of Archie on May 6, she has been caring for her child – although she has been seen privately attending a polo match where husband Harry was playing. 

Meghan’s friend Ms Nonoo is credited with introducing Harry to his future wife via a blind date and she had a VIP seat at the royal wedding at Windsor Castle.

Meanwhile the Duke and Duchess hired a team of Hollywood publicists to promote their charitable foundation which brings together their philanthropic ventures.

The Duchess of Sussex arrives at The Lion King film premiere in London on July 14

Sunshine Sachs, which Meghan has used before, prides itself on aggressive dealings with the media and will manage publicity for the couple’s Sussex Royal initiative.

The development bolsters claims Harry and Meghan plan to focus much of their professional and personal lives in the US, where Los Angeles-born Meghan is from. 

After the news of Meghan’s flight was revealed this morning, a Kensington Palace spokesman told MailOnline: ‘We wouldn’t comment on private travel.’

A US Department of State spokesman declined to comment on whether Meghan would receive diplomatic protection and how much notice it had of the trip.

** Did you see Meghan on a plane today? Email tips@dailymail.com, Terri-Ann.Williams@mailonline.co.uk or call 020 3615 1762 ** 

99% of your flights on commercial planes, Harry? Six out of ten trips since Duke of Sussex’s wedding to Meghan have been on PRIVATE jets 

Prince Harry faced fresh criticism this week for claiming ’99 per cent’ of the flights he takes are with commercial airlines after new analysis suggested six out of ten times he travels by private jet.

The Duke of Sussex was accused of hypocrisy for using charter flights six times this summer while urging the public to cut their carbon footprint. 

He took a scheduled flight to Amsterdam on Monday to promote Travalyst, a scheme that promotes environmentally-friendly tourism.

Speaking at the event on Tuesday, the prince refused to apologise for his recent private flights to Italy, France and Spain, saying: ‘I spend 99 per cent of my life travelling the world by commercial.

‘Occasionally there needs to be an opportunity [to fly privately] based on a unique