At the Critics Choice Awards on Sunday night, Jane Campion won Best Director for her work on the revisionist western “The Power of the Dog.”
Within minutes she had committed a blunder, one for which she would apologize the next day.
“It’s absolutely breathtaking to be here tonight among so many incredible women,” Campion began when she accepted the award. “Halle Berry, you already did my speech – and really killed it, I loved it. You are absolutely brilliant,” she said, referring to the winner of the #SeeHer Award.
“And Venus and Serena, what an honor to be in the room with you,” Campion continued, referring to the tennis greats who supported Will Smith and the rest of the cast of “King Richard,” a warm family drama. about the Williams family. “I went to play tennis. I really. And Will, if you’d like to come over and give me lessons, I’d really love it. I actually had to stop playing because I got tennis elbow. I would also just like to give my love to my fellow man – the boys. The nominees.
“And you know, Serena and Venus, you are such wonders. You don’t play against the guys though – like I have to.”
When the camera went to Venus Williams, her grin launched a thousand memes.
The angry reaction was clear on social media. “‘No matter how far we get, we’re reminded that it’s not enough’ – Serena Williams,” read one of the top commentators on YouTube, where a video of the speech was posted.
“The Williams sisters have even competed against men in the mixed doubles team event,” noted another commentator. “For those unfamiliar with tennis, this is when 2 teams consisting of 1 man and 1 woman compete against each other. So not only is Jane’s comment ignorant, it is inaccurate and incorrect.”
Campion apologized in a statement Monday.
“I made an ill-considered comment that equated what I do in the film world with everything Serena Williams and Venus Williams have accomplished,” she said. “It was not my intention to devalue these two legendary black women and world-class athletes.
“The fact is, the Williams sisters are actually up against men on the field (and off), and they’ve both raised the bar and opened doors to what’s possible for women in this world. The last thing I’d ever want to do “is minimizing remarkable women. I love Serena and Venus. Their achievements are titanic and inspiring. Serena and Venus, I apologize and celebrate you fully.”