Jane Campion's Venus and Serena Williams Comments Condemned: 'Stupid and Insulting'

Jane Campion's acceptance speech at the 2022 Critics' Choice Awards left many viewers confused when she seemingly called out tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams for not competing against men like she does.

It was a busy weekend for the director of The Power of the Dog, who had already gone viral for her reaction to Sam Elliott's criticism of her movie, but her latest comments have caused another big reaction online. Campion's speech, and the sisters' live reaction to it, have became a talking point on Twitter with many calling the incident out as racism.

The Williams sisters are on the awards show campaign trail to support the movie King Richard, which is about their father and tennis coach Richard Williams. Will Smith won another Best Actor award for his performance in the movie at the Critics' Choice Awards.

What Jane Campion Said About the Williams Sisters

Campion won the Best Director prize at the 27th Critics' Choice Awards, the latest prize she's won for her Netflix movie The Power of the Dog. While on stage, she commented on how the Williams sisters, who were in the room, didn't have to compete against men like she did.

In the clip that's gained attention online, Campion said onstage: "Serena and Venus, you are such marvels. However, you do not play against the guys, like I have to."

Venus' reaction was highlighted as she initially didn't react to the comment, but then Serena joined in as the room broke out into applause afterwards.

In Campion's category, she was up against five other men: Paul Thomas Anderson, Kenneth Branagh, Guillermo del Toro, Steven Spielberg and Denis Villeneuve. She became just the third woman to win the best director prize at the Critics' Choice Awards.

Thousands of people commented on the speech online. Journalist and lawyer Imani Gandy wrote, "Jane Campion really got on stage and decided to tear two Black women down for no f****** reason whatsoever."

Sports writer Gene Farris was equally displeased with Campion's speech, writing: "The arrogance and ignorance of Jane Campion. Anyone who knows anything about Venus and Serena's careers wouldn't think to utter something this stupid and insulting."

Her speech was "not funny or appropriate. It was racist," said journalist Carolyn Hinds. She criticized the mostly white audience for laughing at the comment, saying: "They're ok with casual racism because they don't see racism the way we do." Writer and editor Britni Danielle summarized the mood of many by simply sharing a screenshot of Venus Williams' live reaction.

Campion had been riding high online over the weekend despite Sam Elliot's scathing criticism of her movie. She was applauded online for stating in an interview with Variety that "he's not a cowboy, he's an actor." However, the goodwill she generated for her stance didn't last long as some Twitter users pointed out.

Jane Campion, Venus and Serena Williams
Jane Campion has received a backlash online for commenting on how Venus and Serena Williams don't compete against men in their field. Axelle/Bauer-Griffin / Steve Granitz/FilmMagic / Getty Images