Richard Williams Says He’ll ‘Always Stand By’ Will Smith
Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at last year’s Academy Awards is back in the news after the legendary comedy finally addressed the issue in his Netflix special Selective Outrage. Richard Williams, the father of Serena and Venus Williams, is now speaking out.
Within an hour after the slap, Smith won his first Oscar for portraying the 81-year-old in King Richard. In an interview with the U.K.'s Good Morning Britain, Williams said, "I'll always stand by him. I think he has done the best that he needed to do. But I would never be disgusted with Mr. Smith. Matter of fact, I appreciate Mr. Smith."
Williams also said he didn’t “see nothing wrong” with what Smith did. He continued, "When I was about 51 years or younger, I almost killed any damn one. So I think Mr. Smith has done a great deal not to."
Mr. Williams said the 10-year ban issued against Smith should be lifted. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences has banned Smith for a decade from attending any Academy Award events or programs, in person or virtually.
At last year’s Oscars, just before presenting the award for the documentary feature category, Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith, saying, “Jada, I love you. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it.” Rock’s joke was about Jada’s close-shaved head, which is as result of the disease alopecia. The condition can cause hair loss and balding.
G.I. Jane was a 1997 starring Demi Moore, who played a character that shaved her hair off during a vigorous U.S. Navy program. The popular film tackled sexism in the military.
After the joke, Smith walked on stage and slapped Rock. He returned to his seat and shouted, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f***ing mouth.” Later, during his acceptance speech for Best Actor, Smith apologized to the Academy, but not specifically to Rock, which he would do later. The incident reverberated across every corner of the internet, with many debating whether or not Smith was justified in his retaliation.
Later that month, Mr. Williams told NBC News via his son Chavoita LeSane, “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.”