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Richard Williams Defends Will Smith for Chris Rock Slap

By Alberto Amalfi | @Tennis_Now | Wednesday, March 8, 2023

The slap heard round the world shocked the 2022 Academy Awards, but didn't faze Richard Williams.

Will Smith, who won the 2022 Academy Award for his portrayal of Richard Williams in the film "King Richard" stunned audience members and millions of viewers world-wide, when he walked up on stage and slapped Chris Rock across the face after the Brooklyn-born comedian made a GI Jane joke about Smith's wife, actress Jada Pinkett Smith.

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Initially, Smith was seen smiling after the joke while his wife rolled her eyes. Then, Smith stood up, walked on stage and slapped Rock whose hands were behind his back.

Minutes later, the star received the Oscar for best actor and gave a tearful, meandering speech where he spoke about "protecting" his family like Richard Williams.

In a new interview with Good Morning Britain, 81-year-old Richard Williams, father and original coach of Venus and Serena Wiliams, defended Will Smith saying he'll always stand by the star.

"I'll always stand by him," Mr. Williams said. "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."

In his memoir, Black and White: The Way I See It, Richard Williams detailed growing up in a racially divided and sometimes violent Louisiana where he recalled battling both the Ku Klux Klan and local authorities.

Mr. Williams said he "didn't see" anything wrong with Will Smith slapping Chris Rock in response to his remarks.

"When I was about 51 years or younger, I almost killed any damn one," Mr. Williams said. "So I think Mr. Smith has done a great deal not to."

The bizarre scene detracted from what should have been a celebration of the Williams family's story and how father Richard and mother Oracene guided Venus and Serena from the cracked public courts of Compton, California to game-changing Grand Slam champions.

Will Smith has since issued a public apology on social media and video to the comedian though Rock said Smith has not personally apologized to him.