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Tennis’ Shining Moment at The Academy Awards Overshadowed by Will Smith Slapping Chris Rock

Venus and Serena at the Oscars. Photo credit: Getty/Serena Williams Instagram

By: Thomas Cluck

Tennis, a sport so often far away from the silver screen and popular culture in Hollywood and across America, was ready for its shining moment at the Academy Awards. 

The hit film King Richard, starring Will Smith, was about the father and coach of two of the greatest tennis players of all time Serena and Venus Williams, Mr. Richard Williams. The movie was highly acclaimed and poised to win multiple Oscars.

The stage was set. Serena and husband Alexis Ohanion, founder of tech giant Reddit, were there. So was sister Venus Williams on the red carpet in Los Angeles, California. The legendary, almost too epic to be true story of the two sisters from nearby Compton that revolutionized the game of women’s tennis, was going to be brought to the US once again.

King Richard was nominated for the prestigious prize of the night, Best Picture, and its star Will Smith won the Best Actor in a Leading Role prize. It was a successful night and a validation from the academy of the film.
But no one is talking about that.

Instead, the internet and social media have been ablaze with the news that King Richard’s own Will Smith, the guy who won best actor for the film, punched host Chris Rock. Sure, the encounter is getting more attention than the Oscars or any awards show has gotten in years combined. They’ve been failing, dying. Hollywood executives love the new buzz. Surely it couldn’t have been planned or staged at all…

But Will Smith shouldn’t have let that be the story. He just won a career award. A great film should be recognized. Richard Williams and the story of how Venus and Serena became Venus and Serena should be being talked about. Let’s not forget that.