Award-winning director Jane Campion has apologized after receiving criticism for her remarks toward Serena and Venus Williams during the Critics Choice Awards on Sunday.
While accepting her best director award for her film “The Power of the Dog,” Campion noted that all of the other nominees in her category were men, turning to the Williams sisters who were in attendance for their biopic “King Richard.”
“You know, Serena and Venus, you are such marvels. However, you do not play against the guys like I have to,” Campion said to the Williams sisters in her acceptance speech.
Most of the audience broke into laughter and cheers while cameras panned to Venus, who sported an uncomfortable smile on her face.
Many people on social media were quick to criticize Campion, a white woman, for minimizing the racism and sexism the Williams sisters have experienced throughout their acclaimed tennis careers.
In a statement through her publicist, Campion, the first woman to be nominated twice for the best director Oscar, said her remarks about the Williams sisters were “thoughtless,” adding she “did not intend to devalue” the two sisters.
“I made a thoughtless comment equating what I do in the film world with all that Serena Williams and Venus Williams have achieved. I did not intend to devalue these two legendary Black women and world class athletes,” Campion said in her statement to The Hill.
“The fact is the Williams sisters have, actually, squared off against men on the court (and off), and they have both raised the bar and opened doors for what is possible for women in this world. The last thing I would ever want to do is minimize remarkable women,” Campion added.
“I love Serena and Venus. Their accomplishments are titanic and inspiring. Serena and Venus, I apologize and completely celebrate you.”