Richard Williams, the legendary father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams, has shared his thoughts on Will Smith’s notorious Oscar slap.
The 80-year-old coach told NBC News while he doesn’t know “all of the details of what happened” between Smith and Chris Rock, he didn’t “condone” the Fresh Prince alum’s reaction on stage Sunday at the awards ceremony.
“We don’t condone anyone hitting anyone else unless it’s in self-defense,” Williams said through his 48-year-old son, Chavota LeSane, who spoke on behalf of his father. The iconic tennis coach has been under the care of his son since 2016 after he suffered a stroke that slowly impacted his motor skills.
In case you missed it, the 53-year-old actor walked on stage and struck Chris Rock in the face after he made a joke referencing Jada Pinkett Smith’s battle with Alopecia. The comedian mocked The Matrix star’s buzz cut, calling her “G.I. Jane 2.”
LaSane told viewers that his father was shocked by Smith’s reaction, but he did not go into detail about the actor’s Oscar speech. Smith won his first Academy Award on Sunday for portraying the William sisters’ determined father in King Richard, a film, that highlights the steadfast’s coach’s drive and passion to cultivate his young daughters into the Grand Slam champions we know today. However, during his speech, Smith apologized for overshadowing the big moment and the family’s legacy with his actions.
“I want to apologize to the Academy. I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees,” he said as tears streamed down his eyes. “This is a beautiful moment and I’m not crying for winning an award. It’s not about winning an award for me. It’s about being able to shine a light on all of the people,” he continued.
“Tim and Trevor and Zack and Saniyya and Demi and Aunjanue and the entire cast and crew of ‘King Richard,’ Venus and Serena, the entire Williams family. Art imitates life,” the actor added. “I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things.”
Smith also issued a formal apology to Chris Rock on Instagram.
“I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris,” the Philadelphia native wrote in a lengthy open letter. “I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.”
The Academy released a statement following the on-stage kerfuffle condemning Smith’s violent smack, noting how they may “explore further action and consequences in accordance” with “Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law,” according to the New York Post.
You can read Smith’s full statement below.
… and check out what Serena Williams had to say following Will Smith’s smackdown.