Bill and Melinda got married in 1994. They called it quits after 27 years.
Billionaire couple, Bill and Melinda Gates shocked the world with their divorce announcement on May 3, 2021. The couple, who were married for 27 years, released a statement on Twitter saying that they will continue to work together on their charitable foundations despite ending their marriage.
Meanwhile, the couple's amicable divorce has initiated conversations regarding their marriage arrangements. According to People, Bill maintained a special relationship with his ex-girlfriend, Ann Winblad, even after meeting Melinda and getting married to her. Winblad also played a significant role in Bill's decision to propose to Melinda.
Bill dated Winblad, a software entrepreneur, and venture capitalist for a short while in 1987. Though they moved on from their romantic relationship, Bill was determined to keep his friendship with Winblad. He wanted her to remain his close confidant for life. So even after falling in love with Melinda, Winblad was an important part of Bill's life.
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and wife Melinda are divorcing after 27 years.— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) May 3, 2021
They will continue to co-chair the Gates Foundation. https://t.co/SjW3n6nl6k
Their bond was so close that Bill asked Winblad's permission before proposing to Melinda. Speaking to Time, the billionaire recalled the incident and stated, "When I was off on my own thinking about marrying Melinda, I called Ann and asked for her approval."
Bill Gates spent weekends at the beach alone with his ex-girlfriend EVERY YEAR https://t.co/OtRkLMeBOf— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) May 5, 2021
Winblad was more than happy to see Bill with Melinda. She supported his decision and gave Bill the green signal. "I said she'd be a good match for him because she had intellectual stamina," said Winblad.
Despite Winblad's assurance, Bill was confused. He was not confident if he was capable enough to balance a company and a family. Consequently, he decided to find a solution to his dilemma by making a pros and cons list. "I took the idea of marriage very seriously. You know, we cared a lot for each other and there were only two possibilities: either, we were going to break up or we were going to get married," said Bill.
Photos of #BillGates & #MelindaGates (who just announced their #divorce):— Reporter Han Peng (@ReporterHanPeng) May 4, 2021
Pics 1 & 2: Their first trip to Africa in 1993, which they said was a "turning point" in their relationship and their way to view the world.
Pics 3 & 4: #wedding of Bill and Melinda Gates in #Hawaii , 1994. pic.twitter.com/WLfFYqLVf2
Commenting on Bill's lack of clarity at the time, Melinda stated, "Bill wanted to be married, but he didn't know whether he could actually commit to it and have Microsoft." She added, "When he was having trouble making the decision about getting married, he was incredibly clear that it was not about me. It was about, 'Can I get the balance right between work and family life?'"
Luckily, Bill figured it out and decided to make Melinda his wife. In 1994, the couple tied the knot and promised to be there for each other. However, their marriage did not restrict Bill from continuing his relationship with Winblad. In order to keep their camaraderie alive, Bill made it a tradition to take annual vacations with Winblad.
Pic 5: Bill and Melinda Gates in #Beijing— Reporter Han Peng (@ReporterHanPeng) May 4, 2021
Pic 6: Family photo with their 3 children.
Pics 7 & 8: Melinda Gates posted in 2017 on her #Instagram the photos when they were younger, saying he was "curious, fun and brilliant." pic.twitter.com/69yIruD3MI
"Every spring, as they have for more than a decade, Gates spends a long weekend with Winblad at her beach cottage on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where they ride dune buggies, hang-glide and walk on the beach," wrote Walter Isaacson for Time.
Speaking of her relationship with Bill, Winblad said, "We share our thoughts about the world and ourselves. And we marvel about how, as two young overachievers, we began a great adventure on the fringes of a little-known industry and it landed us at the center of an amazing universe."
While Bill's relationship with Winblad might seem bizarre to many, it is clear Melinda and Bill had an understanding that kept them together for decades.
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photos by (L) Scott Olson and (R) John Lamparski