Oscar-nominated director Jane Campion apologized on Monday to tennis champs Serena and Venus Williams for “hasty” comments she made the day before at an awards ceremony.
The New Zealand director sparked a scandal after winning the Best Director award in Los Angeles at the Choice Critics Awards, which are presented by American film critics, for her movie “The Power of the Dog.”
On the stage on Sunday evening, Jane Campion saluted all the female talents in the room, especially the Williams sisters, who attended the party along with Will Smith, star of the “King Richard” movie dedicated to the two tennis champions.
“Serena and Venus, you’re amazing,” Campion said. “But you don’t have to face the guys like I do.”
This unexpected comment sparked a torrent of angry reactions from people who saw in it a form of discrimination and racism. Excerpts from the party were spread across social networks showing Venus Williams upset by this statement.
Jane Campion Monday quickly apologized. “I made a hasty comment comparing what I do in the world of cinema to everything that Serena Williams and Venus Williams have accomplished,” she wrote in a statement carried by US media.
“I had no intention of underestimating these two legendary women and world class athletes,” she added, noting that the Williams sisters had played matches against men during their careers.
The two champions won Grand Slam tournaments in the mixed doubles category.
“The last thing I want is to diminish the merits of these two wonderful women (…) Serena and Venus, I beg your pardon and I fully celebrate you,” Campion said.
The scandal may overshadow the streak of success for Jane Campion, who also won the British BAFTA Award and the American Director’s Award last weekend.
Followers consider the movie “The Power of the Dog” and its director among the most likely candidates to win the Academy Awards, the highest rewards of American cinema, which is distributed in Hollywood on March 27.
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