Richard Williams Speaks Out After Will Smith Slaps Chris Rock

Williams tells ET that he and his family 'don't condone anyone hitting anyone else unless it's in self-defense.'

Richard Williams, father of Venus and Serena Williams and the strong-willed tennis coach Will Smith portrayed in his Oscar-winning performance of King Richard, is speaking out following Smith's altercation with Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars.

Williams provided a statement to ET Monday, after Smith slapped Rock during Sunday night's broadcast when the comedian made a joke about Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

"We don't know all the details of what happened, but we don't condone anyone hitting anyone else unless it's in self-defense," Williams said via his son, Chavoita LeSane.

"My father was as surprised as anyone when Will Smith suddenly retaliated against Chris Rock for making a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith on Sunday," LeSane went on to share. "I want to congratulate Will on the Oscar. It was an honor to see him win Best Actor."

Williams' statement came after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced it had launched a formal review into the onstage incident, after condemning the violence that took place Sunday.

“The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night's show,” the statement released on Monday reads. “We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law." 


It all went down when Rock took the stage to present at the 94th annual Academy Awards. While presenting, the Saturday Night Live alum quipped, "Jada, I love ya. G.I. Jane 2, can't wait to see it," referencing her shaved head. Within seconds, the King Richard star walked onstage and slapped Rock with an open hand, on the face.

The Girls Trip actress has been vocal about her struggles with alopecia, an autoimmune disorder which causes bald spots and hair loss. After delivering the slap, Smith returned to his seat and yelled, "Leave my wife's name out of your f**king mouth." 

Soon after, Smith took the stage and accepted his first Oscar for Best Actor.

Smith used a moment in his speech to formally apologize to the Academy for the incident. "I want to apologize to the Academy, I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees," he said through tears.  

"This is a beautiful moment, and I'm not crying for winning an award," he noted. "It's not about winning an award for me, it's about being able to shine a light on all the people...the entire cast and crew of King Richard." 

While he did not apologize to Rock at the time, he did Monday afternoon in a post shared to Instagram.

"Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable. Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally," Smith began before publicly apologizing to the comedian.

"I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness," he continued.

He also reiterated his apology to the Academy, the Williams family and the cast and crew of King Richard, sharing that he "deeply" regrets his behavior.
"I would also like to apologize to the Academy, the producers of the show, all the attendees and everyone watching around the world. I would like to apologize to the Williams Family and my King Richard Family," Smith said. "I deeply regret that my behavior has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us."

"I am a work in progress. Sincerely, Will," he added, bringing his lengthy statement to a close.

Rock, who declined to press charges Sunday night, has yet to speak out about the incident.