Jane Campion has apologised to Venus and Serena Williams following her comments at the Critics Choice Awards.
After winning the award for Best Director for The Power Of The Dog at the ceremony on Sunday (March 13), Campion compared her achievements to the Williams sisters during her acceptance speech. The tennis superstars were in the room to support the film King Richard, where Will Smith plays their father Richard Williams.
“Venus and Serena, you’re such marvels,” said Campion during her speech. “However, you don’t play against the guys, like I have to.”
The comment, while warmly received in the room, was subsequently criticised by many on social media for comparing her struggles to those of two Black women.
In a statement released following the backlash (via Variety), Campion said: “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.
“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 minimise remarkable women. I love Serena and Venus. Their accomplishments are titanic and inspiring. Serena and Venus, I apologise and completely celebrate you.”
Campion also won Best Director and Best Film for The Power Of The Dog at the BAFTAs 2022 on the same night. The film is currently the frontrunner to win the Academy Award.
“I’m sorry, he was being a little bit of a B-I-T-C-H. He’s not a cowboy; he’s an actor,” Campion said in response. “The West is a mythic space and there’s a lot of room on the range. I think it’s a little bit sexist.”