"She has shown a more vulnerable side," a source close to the singer says, slamming a reported "meltdown"

By Jeff Nelson
Updated March 24, 2016 08:00 AM
Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty

She’s embroiled in an international custody battle, but Madonna had cause to celebrate a personal feat on Wednesday.

With her Rebel Heart world tour wrapping over the weekend, Madonna has sold more than $1.31 billion in tickets, so she holds the title of top grossing touring solo artist in the history of Billboard Boxscore. (She’s also the third highest-grossing touring act in history, after the Rolling Stones and U2.)

But the career triumph comes at a bittersweet time for the pop icon, 57, who has been warring with Guy Ritchie, 47, over custody of their 15-year-old son Rocco since December.

On Monday, a High Court judge in London ruled that the exes’ dispute will be sorted out in the U.S. – a move a source close to the singer calls a victory.

“It’s a big win for Madonna that the U.K. courts ruled to have the custody dispute return to New York,” says the source. “It’s no secret her children mean everything to her, and she does everything she can to make sure they receive best possible education and live conscious, spiritual, well-rounded lives.”

Despite the London judge’s decision, the singer has faced public scrutiny in recent months, as tabloids have reported her onstage antics are signs of a custody battle-induced “meltdown.”

When the singer started recent shows late – and when she drank a cocktail during a clown act portion of one show – some speculated she was drunk or high. (Her rep shot down the accusations at the time.)

While media outlets continue to question Madonna’s health, the source slams the reported “meltdown,” saying: “She continues to be a pillar of strength even as she has shown a more vulnerable side.”

Adds the source: “It’s unfair that both men and women feel they need to give their opinions on the kind of parent they ‘feel’ Madonna should be because she isn’t like most parents: Not every parent can work as hard as she does without being put under a microscope, and most parents don’t have outrageous stories about them made up by the media on a daily basis,” the source says.

As for what’s next, Madonna and Ritchie’s attorneys and a New York Supreme Court judge agreed at a recent hearing that Rocco will remain in London while they work toward a agreement outside of court. However, if a settlement is not reached in the coming months, another hearing in New York is tentatively scheduled for June 1.