Director Jane Campion Faces Backlash For Calling Out Venus & Serena Williams In Critics’ Choice Speech

The internet didn't respond kindly to Jane Campion's 'jab' at the Williams sisters during her 'Best Director' acceptance speech. Fans accused Jane of being 'arrogant,' 'self-righteous,' and 'insecure.'

UPDATE 3/14: Jane Campion apologized for her comments about Serena and Venus Williams in a statement. “I made a thoughtless comment equating what I do in the film world with all that Serena Williams and Venus Williams have achieved. I did not intend to devalue these two legendary Black women and world-class athletes,” the film director said. “The fact is the Williams sisters have, actually, squared off against men on the court (and off), and they have both raised the bar and opened doors for what is possible for women in this world. The last thing I would ever want to do is minimize remarkable women. I love Serena and Venus. Their accomplishments are titanic and inspiring. Serena and Venus, I apologize and completely celebrate you.”

Jane Campion, 67, caused quite a stir when she brought up Serena, 40, and Venus Williams, 41, in her acceptance speech at the 2022 Critics Choice Awards. After the Power of the Dog filmmaker won ‘Best Director’ for her Netflix movie on March 13, Jane gave a lengthy speech during which she initially praised the Williams sisters. “What an honor to be in the room with you,” Jane said about the tennis superstars, before joking that she’s taken up the sport but stopped due to “tennis elbow.”

Then, things got awkward. Jane referred to the other all-male ‘Best Director’ nominees as “the guys” and brought the Williams sisters into her speech once again. “Venus and Serena, you’re such marvels,” she said. “However, you don’t play against the guys, like I have to.” Although Jane’s comment received applause from the audience, it didn’t land as well on the internet.

Fans accused Jane of insulting Serena and Venus and minimizing their incredible tennis careers. One Twitter user wrote, “Jane Campion, how exactly does diminishing and stomping all over the constant misogynoir Venus and Serena face help you, a white woman, climb the ladder…how ugly and privileged of you.” Another person called out Jane for “taking a jab” at the Williams sisters, who also executive produced King Richard starring Will Smith as their father.

In further social media critiques, Jane was called out for being “arrogant,” “ignorant,” “petty,” and “self-righteous.” Many Twitter users even accused the acclaimed director of being “racist” for insulting Serena and Venus. “Jane Campion really got on stage and decided to tear two Black women down for no f***ing reason whatsoever,” one fan wrote.

Serena & Venus Williams
Serena & Venus Williams at the 2022 Critics Choice Awards on March 13 (Photo: Shutterstock)

Jane’s been making quite a media splash lately. Before she was slammed for her comments about Serena and Venus, she was praised by the internet for responding to actor Sam Elliott‘s criticism of The Power of the Dog. “Im sorry, he was being a little bit of a B-I-T-C-H. He’s not a cowboy; he’s an actor,” she told a Variety reporter on the Directors Guild Awards (DGAs) red carpet on March 12. “The West is a mythic space and there’s a lot of room on the range. I think it’s a little bit sexist,” she added.

Jane’s The Power of the Dog is the favorite to win ‘Best Picture’ at the 2022 Academy Awards. She’s also expected to win ‘Best Director’ at the March 27 ceremony. Jane has already made history as the first female director to be nominated twice for an Oscar.

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