Serena Williams has finally broken her silence about the slap heard around world when Will Smith decked Chris Rock after a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith angered him. The 41-year-old tennis star kept her opinion to herself over the last year, but now she’s trying to approach the topic from an angle of grace and forgiveness.
Telling Gayle King on CBS Mornings that “we’re all imperfect and we’re all human,” Williams revisited that shocking night at the Dolby Theatre. “I thought it was such an incredible film [King Richard], and I feel that there was an incredible film after that with Questlove [Summer of Soul] that was overshadowed.” The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon bandleader had the category right after the incident occurred — unfortunately overtaking what should have been a triumphant moment for him.
However, Williams spoke carefully and tried to put herself in Smith’s shoes. “But I also feel that I have been in a position where I’ve been under a lot of pressure and I’ve made a tremendous amount of mistakes,” she said graciously. “I’m the 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.”
The athlete’s level of forgiveness is honestly courageous because the film was a celebration of her father’s life and how he raised two superstars (Venus Williams is her sister) in the family. Smith should have been celebrating a huge milestone in his career, but instead, we are all here talking about a moment in time that is still shocking to everyone. Williams is coming from a place of grace, but you can see the conflict — if only the slap never happened, that Oscar night would have felt so different.
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