She is a former queen of Wimbledon. But if Maria Sharapova ever dreamed of a real royal connection, she has struck gold.
For the Russian tennis star’s latest flame appears to be Etoneducated multimillionaire Alexander Gilkes, once known as New York’s best-connected Briton.
He was a guest at William and Kate’s wedding, is a friend of Sarah Ferguson, used to employ her younger daughter Princess Eugenie – and his ex-wife is Meghan Markle’s favourite designer as well as her friend.
Maria Sharapova’s latest flame appears to be Etoneducated multimillionaire Alexander Gilkes, once known as New York’s best-connected Briton (above together)
Invitations to the wedding of Miss Markle and Prince Harry in May are much sought after although the guest list is still secret.
But art auctioneer Gilkes, 38, is a strong contender to be on it, meaning that Miss Sharapova, 30, might get to go as his ‘plus one’.
She and Gilkes were seen holding hands recently as they visited an art gallery in Beverly Hills and made no attempt to hide their closeness from the cameras.
Although that was the first clear hint of a potential romance between them, they were also spotted together at Los Angeles airport in January.
However, if Miss Sharapova, who won Wimbledon in 2004, does go to the wedding of the year in May it could lead to some awkwardness among guests.
Serena Williams is expected to attend as she is a close friend of Miss Markle – but the US tennis ace has a notoriously fractious relationship with her Russian rival.
He was a guest at William and Kate’s wedding (above with the Duchess of Cambridge)
Gilkes, who lives in New York, co-founded online art auction house Paddle8 in 2010 and briefly employed Princess Eugenie – who he refers to as ‘Eug’.
He married New York fashion designer Misha Nonoo in 2012, but they split in 2016.
He is understood to have become friends with Prince William when they were both at Eton and is also said to be close with Prince Harry, who also went to the school.
Eugenie and her sister Beatrice were both at Gilkes’s 2012 wedding where US pop star Lana Del Rey performed.
Pippa Middleton, thought to be a former flame of his younger brother Charlie, and James Middleton were also at the wedding, while his friends are said to include Sir Elton John, Madonna and Eddie Redmayne.
Last year he was made Vogue’s new contributing arts editor.
Gilkes (left) is also a friend of Sarah Ferguson (centre) and used to employ her younger daughter Princess Eugenie (right)
Miss Sharapova fell from grace in 2016 when testing positive for a banned substance at the Australian Open, which led to her serving a 15- month doping ban.
She is now attempting to make it back to the top of the sport, but has not been welcomed by some players.
Last year she admitted to having gone on a dating spree during her drugs ban, but said men typically find her ‘too intimidating’.
She said: ‘I have enjoyed going out with different people from different cultures in different professions. From that perspective, I’m all over the map.’
Asked what she would look for in a partner, she said: ‘Someone with their own opinions and their own life who is comfortable in their own skin.’
Representatives for Miss Sharapova and Gilkes did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.