"I made a thoughtless comment equating what I do in the film world with all that Serena Williams and Venus Williams have achieved," she said in a statement to Variety. "I did not intend to devalue these two legendary Black women and world-class athletes."
Jane continued, "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. I love Serena and Venus. Their accomplishments are titanic and inspiring. Serena and Venus, I apologize and completely celebrate you."
Jane Campion's acceptance speech for Best Director at the 2022 Critics' Choice Awards has evoked an adverse reaction online, with some users calling her comments "unnecessary."
During the March 13 awards ceremony, the 67-year-old filmmaker nabbed the award for her 2021 film, The Power of the Dog. And although the director began her speech by thanking her fellow nominees, Jane also turned her attention to tennis stars Venus and Serena, whose lives were the basis for the movie, King Richard, another nominated film.
"Venus and Serena, you're such marvels," Jane said. "However, you don't play against the guys, like I have to." Her comments were met with applause from the in-person audience—but received a completely different reaction from social media once her speech circulated online.
"In one fell swoop she managed to 1) diminish the racism and sexism Venus and Serena faced from the beginning of their careers till now," film critic Carolyn Hinds tweeted, adding that Jane dismissed "the blood, sweat and tears they've shed to EARN the awards and accolades they've received. And for what purpose? To prop herself up?"
Other users echoed that sentiment, highlighting the historic careers of both tennis players. "The arrogance and ignorance of Jane Campion," sports editor Gene Farris wrote. "Anyone who knows anything about Venus and Serena's careers wouldn't think to utter something this stupid and insulting."
Over the weekend, the Power of the Dog director made headlines when she was praised for her response to Sam Elliott, who had called her Western drama a "piece of s--t" in a recent interview with Marc Maron.
"I'm sorry, he was being a little bit of a B-I-T-C-H," she told Variety ahead of the 74th annual DGA Awards on Saturday, March 12. "I'm sorry to say it but he's not a cowboy, he's an actor."
As of March 14, neither Venus nor Serena have publicly responded to Jane's comments.