Melinda Gates opens up on 'unbelievably painful' divorce

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Melinda French Gates discussed her and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates' divorce in a recent interview, describing it as "unbelievably painful" and saying she "had some reasons" she "couldn't stay" married to him.

Fortune, in an interview published online Monday, asked French Gates how she thought her divorce altered her worldview and the world's view of her. The billionaire philanthropist responded that she doesn't "really think about it."

FILE – In this July 1, 2021 file photo, Melinda Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation poses for photographers as she arrives for a meeting after a meeting on the sideline of the gender equality conference at the Elysee Palace in Pa ((AP Photo/Michel Euler, File) / AP Newsroom)

"Because I know who I am, and I know what I stand for," she explained to the outlet. "I had some reasons I just couldn't stay in that marriage anymore."

BILL AND MELINDA GATES ARE OFFICIALLY DIVORCED

Her 27-year marriage to the Microsoft co-founder officially ended in August 2021, a few months after the couple announced their plans to divorce. In statements posted to their Twitter accounts in May 2021, they said they "no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives" and decided to split "after a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship."

In this screengrab, (L-R) Melinda Gates and Bill Gates speak during “One World: Together At Home” presented by Global Citizen on April, 18, 2020. The global broadcast and digital special was held to support frontline healthcare workers and the COVID- (Getty Images/Getty Images for Global Citizen / Getty Images)

French Gates told Fortune the coronavirus pandemic gave her the "privacy to do what I needed to do."

MACKENZIE SCOTT, EX-WIFE OF JEFF BEZOS, FILES FOR DIVORCE FROM SECOND HUSBAND DAN JEWETT

"It's unbelievably painful, in innumerable ways, but I had the privacy to get through it," French Gates reportedly said. "I also kept working with the person I was moving away from, and I need 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 videoconference at 10 a.m. with the person I'm leaving, I have to show up and be my best."

She and Gates have both remained co-chairs of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the charitable organization they created together in 2000, since their split. The organization has allocated tens of billions of dollars to various causes over the years, including gender equality, vaccine development and education.

SQUAWK BOX — Pictured: Warren Buffett, Bill and Melinda Gates, in an interview on May 5, 2015 (Photo by: Lacy O’Toole/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Her experience during the divorce "reminded me that the foundation calls me to be my best," French Gates told Fortune, adding that her "main concern" was "trying to protect my kids through it." 

"And we got to the other side," she said regarding the divorce.

BILL GATES' EX-WIFE, MELINDA FRENCH GATES, OPENS UP ABOUT THEIR DIVORCE: ‘I COULDN’T TRUST WHAT WE HAD'

In February, the Wall Street Journal reported French Gates was pivoting from donating a significant portion of her wealth to the Gates Foundation to instead distributing it among various groups. 

As of press time, French Gates has an estimated net worth of about $6.3 billion, according to Forbes. Her ex-husband's net worth is roughly $104.9 billion.

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