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Director Jane Campion has apologized to tennis legend Venus and Serena Williams for her “reckless” comments about the duo during an acceptance speech Sunday night at the Critics’ Choice Awards.
Campion, a white woman from New Zealand, was receiving the Best Director award for her movie Dog Power when she made the comments.
In her speech, Campion – the only woman nominated in this category – praised the Williams sisters as “masterpieces” of their profession, but noted that the two black women did not face the same battles over gender equality as the women in the film.
“Serena and Venus, you are a marvel,” Campion said with a laugh. “However, you don’t play against players, as I should.”
Her comments were met with swift backlash on social media, with commentators pointing to the years of racism and sexism the Williams sisters have faced in their careers.
Jane Campion, daughter of famed New Zealand theater director Richard Campion and actress Edith Campion MBE, explains the challenges facing white women from an established family to Venus and Serena Williams. https://t.co/7IhXlrNIBw
– Mega Mohan (meghamohan) March 14, 2022
Others have noted a degree of tonal deafness—the idea that a white woman from a privileged background somehow has a more difficult path to success than two black tennis positions—which some have described as quite emblematic of white feminism.
Jane Campion’s hit is the perfect instillation of white feminism.
– Said Jones (@theferocity) March 14, 2022
“I made a reckless comment that equals what I do in the world of cinema with all that Serena Williams and Venus Williams have achieved,” Campion said in a statement on Monday. “It was not my intention to underestimate these two legendary black women and world class athletes.” According to media reports. “The truth is that the Williams sisters are, in fact, fighting against men on (and off) the court, and both have raised the bar and opened the doors to what is possible for women in this world. The last thing I ever want to do is belittle amazing women.”
Campion moviedog strengthCritics praised it. The film is an examination of gay people in the American West and sparked debates about the history of gay cowboys and toxic masculinity.
The film received 10 nominations at the awards show on Sunday night, and won four, including Best Director for Campion.
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