Serena, Venus Williams’ Father ‘King Richard’ Reacts To Will Smith’s Incident

Richard Williams has weighed in on Will Smith's viral slap of Chris Rock at the Oscars
Richard Williams has weighed in on Will Smith's viral slap of Chris Rock at the Oscars

Smith won best actor for his portrayal of Richard Williams

Will Smith’s slap of Chris Rock at the Oscars has garnered a reaction from the father of Venus and Serena Williams, who Smith portrays in “King Richard.”

According to his son and spokesperson, Richard Williams does not support violence.

“We don’t know all the details of what happened. But we don’t condone anyone hitting anyone else unless it’s in self-defense,” Richard Williams said via his son, Chavoita LeSane, to NBC News.

LeSane went on to share that Venus and Serena’s father was just as surprised as viewers at home over the now-viral moment. LeSane declined to provide any further comments on behalf of Richards, 80.

Smith, 53, first addressed the slap minutes after it happened, when he won best actor for his role in “King Richard.” During his teary-eyed acceptance speech, Smith brought up the real-life father of the tennis stars.

“Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family,” Smith said as he began his acceptance speech after winning best actor honors. He apologized afterward to many people — including Venus and Serena Williams — but did not mention Rock in his apology.

Smith then spoke about being a protector for those who worked with him on the film such as Aunjanue Ellis along with Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton, the two actors who played Venus and Serena.

Will Smith yells at Chris Rock from his seat at the Oscar's after physically assaulting him on stage on Sunday, March 27.  Will Smith yells at Chris Rock from his seat at the Oscar’s after physically assaulting him on stage on Sunday, March 27

“I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people,” said Smith during his acceptance speech after winning his first-ever Oscar. “I know to do what we do you’ve got to be able to take abuse. You’ve got to be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business, you’ve got to be able to have people disrespecting you. And you’ve got to smile and pretend like that’s OK.”

“I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams,” Smith also said. “But love will make you do crazy things.”

The exchange began when Rock took aim at Pinkett Smith’s shaved head, saying, “Jada, I love you. ‘G.I. Jane 2,’ can’t wait to see it, all right?” Rock’s reference was made from the 1997 film “G.I. Jane,” starring Demi Moore, who shaved her head to portray a fictional Navy Seal candidate.

Pinkett Smith revealed in 2018 that she was diagnosed with alopecia. She has often discussed the challenges of hair loss on Instagram and other social media platforms.

The joke missed, badly.(L-R) Serena Williams, Will Smith and Venus Williams attend the 33rd Annual Producers Guild Awards on March 19. (L-R) Serena Williams, Will Smith and Venus Williams attend the 33rd Annual Producers Guild Awards on March 19.

Smith walked onto the stage from his front-row seat and took a swing at Rock with an open palm, generating a loud smack. Smith walked back to his seat and shouted for Rock to leave Pinkett Smith alone. Rock replied that he was just making a “G.I. Jane” joke — and Smith yelled back at him a second time.

The moment shocked the Dolby Theatre audience and viewers at home.

On Monday, Smith publicly apologized to Rock, calling himself “wrong.” His full statement reads: “My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable. Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally.”

Will Smith, right, hits presenter Chris Rock on stage while presenting the award for best documentary feature at the Oscars. Will Smith, right, hits presenter Chris Rock on stage while presenting the award for best documentary feature at the Oscars.

“I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. 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. ”

“I would also like to apologize to the Academy, the producers of the show, all the attendees and everyone watching around the world. I would like to apologize to the Williams Family and my ‘King Richard’ family. I deeply regret that my behavior has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us.”

“I am a work in progress. Sincerely, Will.”

Smith’s statement comes after the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences said it is launching a formal review into the altercation.

(L-R) Demi Singleton, Serena Williams, Will Smith, Venus Williams, Saniyya Sidney, and Aunjanue Ellis attend the closing night premiere of Warner Bros' "King Richard" at the 2021 AFI Fest at TCL Chinese Theatre. (L-R) Demi Singleton, Serena Williams, Will Smith, Venus Williams, Saniyya Sidney, and Aunjanue Ellis attend the closing night premiere of Warner Bros’ “King Richard” at the 2021 AFI Fest at TCL Chinese Theatre.

In a statement Monday, a spokesperson for the film academy told Variety: “The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night’s show. We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law.”

The academy previously issued a statement on Sunday, stating that it “does not condone violence of any form.”

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