What Was Serena Williams' Reaction To Will Smith's Slap?

The night of March 27, 2022, will remain vivid in Will Smith's mind for a long time to come. Not only did it mark the day he won his first Oscar for portraying Serena and Venus Williams's father in "King Richard," but it also marked the infamous moment Smith slapped Chris Rock in front of his peers and the millions of viewers who tuned in to watch the 2022 Oscars. The jaw-dropping moment happened when Rock compared Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, to "G.I. Jane." Jada, who has experienced hair loss as a consequence of alopecia, was not amused, evidenced by her vigorous eye-roll following the joke, The Mirror noted.

The incident has divided Hollywood — and the nation. Some celebs have stood by Smith's right to defend his family while others believe physical violence is simply unacceptable. Nicki Minaj was among the former. The singer noted on Twitter that Rock should have known better than to make a joke about Jada's well-known struggle with the autoimmune disease: "You just got to witness in real time what happens in a man's soul when he looks over to the woman he loves & sees her holding back tears from a 'little joke' at her expense." Rosie O'Donnell, on the other hand, sided with Rock, arguing Will's actions amounted to "a sad display of toxic masculinity from a narcissistic madman." Serena, who was at the event, also reacted to Will's stunning smack — but she was a lot less verbal.

Serena Williams shared stunned reaction to Instagram

Serena Williams was in the audience at the Dolby Theater when Will Smith walked onto the stage and smacked Chris Rock. In fact, the tennis star had been there to support Smith and the biopic about her father, Richard Williams, which was competing in five categories. Like everyone else present or watching live, Serena had a strong reaction to Smith's furious actions. As the tension unfolded, she held her phone close to her face, capturing her dropped jaw and wide eyes for her Instagram Stories. She then uploaded another clip in which she said: "I just sat down because I was like, 'I gotta put that drink down...'" Serena paused mid-sentence, making a confused face when the audience started applauding in the background.

This is the second time Serena witnessed controversy in recent weeks during an award show. The first, however, involved her much more directly. At the Critics Choice Awards on March 13, "The Power of the Dog" director Jane Campion mentioned the Williams sisters in her acceptance, though it didn't go as planned. "Venus and Serena, you're such marvels," the New Zealand filmmaker said, according to Variety. "However, you don't play against the guys, like I have to." Sitting in the audience, Serena and Venus didn't hide how they felt, with Venus seemingly cringing at the comment, Page Six noted. Campion faced online backlash for her perceived backhanded compliment, and later apologized for her "thoughtless comment," per Us Weekly.