I wasn’t sure how to address her. Her name had somewhat changed since divorcing her husband of 27 years, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.
She went from Melinda Gates to Melinda French Gates - adding in her maiden name - when the couple announced they’d be parting ways.
However, when we first connected for our interview, she introduced herself as Melinda Gates. And that was that.
If it was up to me, I would have concentrated on her personal life. Life after marriage. What was the dating scene like for a billionaire divorced woman? Who’d have the guts to ask her out? The stuff you and I are most curious about.
But she wanted to discuss her work.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is probably the biggest philanthropic effort in the world. A lot of the money has ended up in fighting some of the biggest killer diseases in Africa - including malaria.
She told me that she was frustrated that a lot of the progress made in the fight against malaria before the Covid-19 pandemic had been undone as malaria cases are going up.
But Ms Gates said she was optimistic about the development of vaccines.
We also talked about the impact of Covid and she hoped that richer countries would do more to support the recovery of African economies.
Towards the end of our chat, I ask her how she is holding up. It can’t have been an easy year. She thanks me for asking and says that she’s grateful that she’s got a good circle of friends and family around her.
“I thought you were going to tell me that you are going on a date,” I jokingly said to her. She laughed and replied: “Maybe in the future.”
Still, I wanted to know what she thought of marriage.
She said she was happy for anyone who’s lucky enough to find the right match.
“I still believe in marriage.”
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