Tennis superstar Serena Williams is finally addressing last year’s Oscar smack and the fallout for Will Smith after minutes later he won an Oscar for portraying her father in the 2021 film King Richard.
In an interview with CBS Mornings co-host Gayle King that aired Wednesday, the game-changing tennis ace defended Smith’s actions nearly a year later and called for a show of kindness when people make mistakes.
“Then ‘King Richard’ had that moment at the Oscars, what do you think of that?’ asked king.
“I thought it would be such an incredible film and I feel like there was an incredible film with Questlove after that [‘Summer of Soul’] that sort of thing was overshadowed,” Williams said, without using Smith’s name or details about the infamous moment when he stormed the stage and punched host Chris Rock for making a joke about Smith’s wife.
“But I also feel like I was in a position where I was under a lot of pressure and made a lot of mistakes,” Williams continued. “And I’m the kind of person who says, ‘I was there, I made a mistake. It’s not the end of the world.’ We are all imperfect and we are all human and let’s just be nice to each other. So that is often forgotten.”
Williams, 41, and her older sister Venus Williams attended the 94th Academy Awards but didn’t publicly address the incident, which still left them embarrassed and marred a night of Black Hollywood celebrations.
Smith, 54, who took the stage less than an hour later on the show to accept his leading actor Oscar, delivered a rambling speech and explained himself indirectly, apologizing to the Academy and his fellow contestants and telling the Academy he hoped that he’ll be invited the back. But he didn’t specifically apologize for his behavior toward Rock or the Williams family.
Despite the numerous mea culpas that came after the show, the Ali and The Pursuit of Happyness star was subsequently banned from the Academy Awards and related events for 10 years, but was allowed to keep his Oscar.
In a November appearance on The Daily Show, the Emancipation star told then-host Trevor Noah that “bottled” anger led to his actions that night and that it was a “terrible decision.”
The tireless ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ star has recovered, brought his larger than life personality back to social media and announced earlier this week that he and Martin Lawrence would be reuniting for a fourth ‘Bad Boys’ movie.
Meanwhile, Williams, who told King, “I’ve literally dedicated my entire life to tennis and it’s time to dedicate my life to something else,” will be featured in a Super Bowl LVII commercial for Michelob Ultra next week, in in which she is seen swapping tennis for golf.