July 24, 2024
Serena Williams

Serena Williams is reminding people to “be kind to each other” almost one year after Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the 94th Academy Awards.

During Williams’ conversation with CBS Mornings’ Gayle King on Wednesday, the tennis legend — who confirmed she will no longer play competitively in the same interview — was asked about her reaction to Smith’s now infamous incident at the Oscars. Smith’s slap happened the same night he accepted his first-ever Oscar for portraying Williams’ father Richard Williams in King Richard.

“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,” Williams told King, in reference to Summer of Soul, which won the Oscar for Best Documentary shortly after the incident.

“But 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 said. “And 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,” the tennis legend added to King. “I think that’s often forgotten a lot.”

Neither Serena nor her sister Venus Williams, whose early lives and tennis careers are depicted in King Richard, have otherwise publicly offered opinions on last year’s Academy Awards incident, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Serena Williams
Serena Williams, Will Smith and Venus Williams attend the 33rd Annual Producers Guild Awards at Fairmont Century Plaza on March 19, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.

In the weeks following last year’s awards ceremony, Smith resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and was eventually banned from attending Academy events for a decade. He has since apologized multiple times for his actions, including to Rock.

“There’s many nuances and complexities to it, you know, but at the end of the day, I just — I lost it,” Smith said in November, as he opened up about the incident during an appearance on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

“I guess what I would say, you just never know what somebody’s going through,” he added about the moment he slapped Rock for directing a joke toward his wife Jada Pinkett Smith.
“You just don’t know what’s going on with people,” added Smith, 54. “And I was going through something that night… Not that that justifies my behavior at all.”

While Smith remains banned from Academy events, he is still technically eligible to be nominated for an Academy Award. His first film to release since last year’s Oscars, the slavery epic Emancipation, did not receive any nominations at the upcoming 95th Academy Awards.

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