Will Smith accused of 'awful' act towards Venus and Serena Williams

Will Smith, Venus Williams and Serena Williams, pictured here at the Oscars.
Will Smith has been accused of stealing the Williams sisters' big moment. Image: Getty

Will Smith has been accused of stealing the Williams sisters' big moment with his controversial slap on Chris Rock that shocked the Oscars.

Smith left onlookers mortified after storming the stage and slapping the comedian after a distasteful joke about wife Jada Pinkett's hair.

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Smith has been widely condemned for the attack, even though many felt Rock's joke crossed the line.

And as the world continues to come to grips with what transpired, many in the tennis community have pointed out that Smith's actions stole the spotlight that should have been on the Williams family.

Smith won the best actor Oscar for his portrayal of the Williams sisters' father Richard in 'King Richard'.

The movie chronicled how the Williams sisters became global tennis superstars with the help of their coach and father Richard.

Serena and Venus Williams were in attendance at the ceremony on Sunday night and were among the many left in shock by Smith's actions.

And while Smith has since apologised, many felt like the Williams family were robbed of their moment.

Tennis writer Ben Rothenberg tweeted: “I just feel awful, foremost, for the Williams family, who put so much into making this movie the best it could be, and didn’t do anything to deserve how this night imploded.”

Former NFL star and Fox Sports host Shannon Sharpe said: “Now you take the moment away from Venus and Serena, their dad, the story about their family.

Serena Williams, Will Smith and Venus Williams, pictured here at the 33rd Annual Producers Guild Awards.
Serena Williams, Will Smith and Venus Williams at the 33rd Annual Producers Guild Awards. (Photo by MICHAEL TRAN/AFP via Getty Images)

“You stole that moment from them. Why? Because he (Rock) made a joke?

“For him to do that, considering some of the things she had said at her round table about an entanglement - he ain’t slapped that guy! That’s the guy you should be mad about!”

American tennis writer Christopher Clarey added: “The table was set for a moment of family triumph but then - as so often with the Williamses and through no fault of their own - things got complicated.

“An evening that should have affirmed their against-great-odds rise to stardom instead became about Smith slapping the comedian Chris Rock onstage.

“Sunday night would have been a time to revel in the length of their journey, the depth of their achievements and Richard’s legacy.

"Instead, it turned into a night for Serena to cover her eyes.”

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Richard Williams speaks out about Will Smith's slap

Richard Williams has since spoken out, condemning the violence that Smith displayed.

“We don’t know all the details of what happened,” Mr Williams said via his son Chavoita LeSane.

“But we don’t condone anyone hitting anyone else unless it’s in self-defence.”

Smith apologised to the film academy, producers of the telecast, attendees, viewers and the Williams family.

"Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive," he said.

Will Smith, pictured here slapping Chris Rock during the 94th Academy Awards.
Will Smith slaps Chris Rock during the 94th Academy Awards. (Myung Chun / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

"My behaviour 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.

"I would like to publicly apologise 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."

The film academy earlier released a statement condemning Smith's actions.

"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," they said.

with AAP

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