Richard Williams, the man Will Smith portrayed in his Oscar-winning turn in King Richard, says it’s time to “forgive” the actor for slapping Chris Rock.
Williams is the father and former coach of tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams.
On Monday, March 6, he spoke with Good Morning Britain in his first interview since Smith walked on stage and slapped Rock at the 2022 Oscars.
“I’ll always stand by him,” Williams said about Smith. “I think he has done the best that he needed to do. But I would never be disgusted with Mr. Smith.”
Related Story: Chris Rock Destroys Will Smith During Netflix Special
The father of tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams has broken his silence to defend Will Smith over the slapping of comedian Chris Rock at the Oscars.
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) March 6, 2023
The 81-year-old Louisiana native added that the film academy should “definitely” lift its 10-year ban on Smith for slapping Rock after the comedian told a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
“It should be just one day, no more than a week at the most,” Williams said. “It’s time for everyone to forgive Will Smith.”
Williams has suffered a series of strokes and rarely grants interviews.
A day after last year’s Oscars, Williams released a statement through his son saying, “We don’t condone anyone hitting anyone else unless it’s in self-defense.”
On Monday, Williams told Good Morning Britain he “didn’t feel sorry” for Rock.
The interview came after the comedian’s live Netflix special Chris Rock: Selective Outrage premiered Saturday night.
Rock tore into Smith during the last 10 minutes of the special and compared the actor to disgraced music mogul Suge Knight, who is in a California prison serving time for manslaughter.
“Y’all know what happened to me, getting smacked by Suge Smith. Everybody knows. Everybody f–king knows. Yes, it happened. I got smacked like a year ago… I got smacked at the f–king Oscars by this motherfu–er. People are like, ‘Did it hurt?’ It still hurts! I got ‘Summertime’ ringing in my ears,” Rock said referring to Smith’s 1991 single “Summertime” with DJ Jazzy Jeff.
In July 2022, Smith released a video on his social media channels saying he was “deeply remorseful” for slapping Rock.
“I’ve reached out to Chris and the message that came back is that he’s not ready to talk, and when he is, he will reach out,” Smith said. “So I will say to you, Chris, I apologize to you. My behavior was unacceptable, and I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk.”