Comments Made By Award-Winning Filmmaker About Venus And Serena Williams Have Caused Major Backlash

While accepting the 2022 Critics Choice Award for Best Director for "The Power of the Dog," Jane Campion celebrated her much-favored win by thanking fellow nominees — and making an odd remark about Venus and Serena Williams. Taking home the prize over directors Paul Thomas Anderson ("Licorice Pizza"), Kenneth Branagh ("Belfast"), Guillermo del Toro ("Nightmare Alley"), Steven Spielberg ("West Side Story"), and Denis Villeneuve ("Dune"), Campion acknowledged that she was her category's only female by quipping, "I'd also just like to give my love out to my fellow, fellow, fellow — the guys, the nominees," per Variety. Fair enough. However, Campion then singled out the tennis-dominating Williams sisters, who were in the audience at the March 13 ceremony to support "King Richard." Campion added, "Serena and Venus, you are such marvels. However, you do not play against the guys like I have to."

The comment landed on the bad side of many Twitter users, including actor Jodie Turner-Smith, who was in attendance and tweeted, "jane taking time out of her best director speech to tell two Black women that she is more oppressed than them is PEAK white feminism." Many users echoed Turner-Smith's sentiment, wondering why Campion acknowledged the Williams sisters at all. "Critic's Choice: The winner is Jane Campion! Jane: Thank you. Now, let me attack Black women minding their own damn business," a viewer wrote

Campion, who just earned good press for clapping back at Sam Elliott's controversial comments about her film, had no choice but to apologize. 

Jane Campion apologized, but did Twitter accept?

Jane Campion sure walked her comments about Venus and Serena Williams back fast. Addressing her controversial remark about the tennis legends at March 13's Critics Choice Awards, Campion apologized in a statement through a spokesperson the next day. "I made a thoughtless comment equating what I do in the film world with all that Serena Williams and Venus Williams have achieved," Campion began, according to CNN. "I did not intend to devalue these two legendary Black women and world class athletes."

Pointing out the factual inaccuracy of her statement at the ceremony, Campion further noted, "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." Campion concluded her apology by addressing the Williams sisters directly, saying, "Serena and Venus, I apologize and completely celebrate you." 

Many Twitter users appeared unimpressed by Campion's quick turnaround, however, with one tweeting, "Less interested in an apology, and more interested in why her brain thought it was ok to make that comment in the first place."