Nearly one year (yes, it’s been almost one year) since the Will Smith slap heard ‘round the world at the 2022 Oscars, Serena Williams is opening up about what she thought about the scandal.
The outburst – which involved Smith hopping on stage and slapping comedian Chris Rock after a joke he made about Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair – stole the spotlight away from Williams’ movie, King Richard, which she produced with her sister Venus Williams.
“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 Gayle King during a CBS Mornings interview. “But I also feel that I’ve been in a position where I’ve been under a lot of pressure and I’ve 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.'”
The 23-time Grand Slam singles titles winner added: “We’re all imperfect, and we’re all human and let’s just be kind to each other. That’s often forgotten a lot.”
Smith would ultimately win Best Actor Oscar for his performance as Richard Williams, Serena’s father and tennis coach, but he would eventually be banned from attending the Oscars and Academy events for 10 years. He later resigned from the Academy.
After slapping Rock, who was presenting the award for Best Documentary, the Good Hair actor, poked fun at Pinkett Smith’s bald head. The Set It Off star suffers from alopecia, but Rock said he was unaware that the actress had the condition.
After Smith erupted out of his seat and slapped Rock, he returned to his seat and yelled out twice, “keep my wife’s name out of your f***ing mouth.”
Following the scandal, Richard Williams told NBC News through his son Chavoita LeSane that “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.”
After the incident, Serena posted a clip on social media showing her mouth agape and in shock after witnessing the slap. In a second video, she said “I just sat down, because I was like, I gotta put that drink down.”
Smith did admit in an interview while promoting his latest film Emancipation that “I lost it” in reference to the slap.