Serena and Venus Williams’s father defends Will Smith’s Oscar slap: ‘I’ll always stand by him’

Richard Williams has spoken out in defence of Will Smith over his infamous Oscar slap, saying that he didn’t see “anything wrong” with the actor’s actions.

During last year’s Academy Awards, Smith walked on stage and slapped presenter Chris Rock across the face after the comedian made a joke aimed at Jada Pinkett Smith.

In his first major TV interview since last year’s debacle, the retired coach and father of tennis champions Serena and Venus Williams addressed the incident, telling Good Morning Britain: “I’ll always stand by him.”

“I think he has done the best thing he needed to do, but I would never be disgusted with Mr Smith,” Williams stated. “Matter of fact, I appreciate Mr Smith.”

Following the altercation, Smith went on to win Best Actor for his portrayal of Williams in the film King Richard.

Nearly two weeks after the incident, the Academy gathered to discuss how they would handle the situation. It was eventually decided that Smith would be banned from attending the Oscars and all related Academy events for the next 10 years.

Responding to Smith’s banishment, Richard, 81, argued that “it should be just one day or no more than a week at the most”, adding that “it’s time for everyone to forgive Will Smith”.

Richard’s comments come days after Rock roasted Smith over the moment in Netflix’s first-ever live global streaming event on Saturday (4 March).

In the comedy special, titled Chris Rock: Selective Outrage, the 58-year-old comedian acknowledged that while the slap physically hurt, “I’m not a victim baby. You will never see me on Oprah or Gayle, crying.

“I took that hit like [former boxer Manny] Pacquiao,” he joked.

Rock also made a bold claim about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, saying she had attempted to force him to quit hosting the Oscars in 2016 after Will didn’t get a Best Actor nomination for his 2015 film Concussion.

The Independent has contacted Pinkett Smith’s representatives for comment.

As per tradition, Smith, as the reigning Best Actor winner, would have been invited to present this year’s Best Actress award. However, since Smith’s attendance is prohibited, it is unknown who will give out the 2023 trophy in his place.

The 95th Oscars ceremony takes place on Sunday 12 March and will be broadcasted live on ABC, beginning at 8pm EST.