Serena Williams Opens Up On Will Smith Slap At King Richard’s Oscars

Almost one full year after the infamous Will Smith and Chris Rock slap incident at the 2022 Academy Awards, tennis legend Serena Williams shares her thoughts on the events that led up to Smith’s King Richard Oscar win. King Richard was a 2021 biopic that starred Smith as Richard Williams, the father to iconic tennis-playing sisters Serena (Demi Singleton) and Venus Williams (Saniyya Sidney). The film was nominated for six Oscars at the 2022 Academy Awards, including Best Motion Picture of the Year and Best Original Screenplay.

In an interview with Gayle King of CBS Mornings, Serena Williams opened up on Smith’s slap and how it has affected her and the legacy of the King Richard film.

The recently retired tennis player told King that she thought King Richard was an incredible film and that the incident certainly overshadowed Questlove’s film, Summer of Soul which won Best Documentary Feature right after Smith’s slapping incident. Importantly, she also said that it’s important for everyone to move on from what happened and called for people to be understanding of Smith’s mistake. Her moral message was one of love, peace, and acceptance. Check out what Serena Williams had to say about it below:

“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. 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, 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. So, that’s often forgotten a lot.”

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Did Will Smith’s Oscars Slap Tarnish King Richard’s Legacy?

The Will Smith and Chris Rock slap incident cast a negative light on the film, especially after Smith’s first-ever Oscar win came with his performance in King Richard. What was supposed to be a touching moment for both the actor and the Williams family suddenly was a big moment for all the wrong reasons. In a bizarre way, the slap gave the film more publicity, as the slap was the most-talked-about moment in recent Oscars history. In that case, not all publicity was necessarily good publicity since the conversation online was geared heavily toward Smith’s slap and not his performance or the film itself.

The film got a lot of awards consideration, but King Richard was a box-office disappointment, which meant that most movie-goers hadn’t seen it before it started getting awards buzz. Due to the film’s accolades (and perhaps also the slap), King Richard enjoyed strong streaming views that the tennis biopic might not otherwise have attracted from non-tennis audiences. The film did a great job of garnering more attention with the compelling and Oscar-winning performance of Smith, in addition to the rest of the cast’s great work as the entire Williams family. Aunjanue Ellis’ portrayal of Oracene Williams, Serena’s mother, accounted for one of the film’s six Oscar nominations.

Despite King Richard‘s legacy perhaps being tarnished, Serena Williams’ comments are enlightening. There’s no denying that the slap brought negative coverage to King Richard, but continuing to judge the entirety of Smith’s life and career based on one very public mistake doesn’t accomplish anything. Smith has shared his regret for the move over the past year, and with Williams’ comments, the topic should hopefully be put to bed for good. The 2023 Academy Awards likely won’t feature any drama like last year with King Richard, but Jimmy Kimmel will host the event on March 12.

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Source: CBS Mornings

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