Nearly a year after Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Academy Awards, Serena Williams offers a graceful reflection on the incident. Although she says the altercation “overshadowed” the honors received by not one, but two films, Williams ultimately sides with compassion over judgment.
“I thought it was such an incredible film, and I feel that there was an incredible film after that with Questlove that kind of was overshadowed,” she tells Gayle King on CBS Mornings.
Prior to Rock spouting off jokes about Jada Pinkett Smith’s alopecia, the comedian took the stage to announce the winner for Best Documentary Feature. Before the winner could be announced, Smith took the stage and slapped Rock, shouting, “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth!” After a few minutes, Questlove was announced as the winner for Summer Of Soul, but audiences were still reeling from what would become known as “The Slap.”
Serena and her sister Venus were both in attendance at the ceremony last year to celebrate the nominations earned by King Richard, which tells the story of their path to tennis greatness under the guidance of their father, Richard Williams. Shortly after slapping Rock, Smith won the Oscar for his lead performance in King Richard. In the weeks following the televised altercation, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted to ban Smith from attending the ceremony for the next ten years.
“I also feel that I’ve been in a position where I’ve been under a lot of pressure and made a tremendous amount of mistakes,” Williams continues. “I’m the kind of person that’s like, I’ve been there, I’ve made a mistake, it’s not the end of the world.”
“We’re all imperfect, and we’re all human, and let’s just be kind to each other. So, that’s often forgotten a lot,” she concludes.