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‘I Made a Thoughtless Comment’: Jane Campion Apologizes After Facing Backlash for Venus and Serena Williams Remarks During Critics Choice Award Speech 

New Zealand-born director Jane Campion has issued an apology for remarks she made about tennis sibling duo Venus and Serena Williams during her acceptance speech at the 27th annual Critics Choice Awards, which saw the 67-year-old take home the award for Best Director for her western drama, “The Power of the Dog.”

Campion faced backlash following her statements in which the 67-year-old — who beat out five other male contenders — claimed that the sporting trailblazers, though were “marvels,” “do not play against the guys like I have to.” 

Jane Campion (L) and Venus and Serena Williams (R). Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images for Critics Choice Association, Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Champagne Collet & OBC Wines

In a statement to Page Six, the “Bright Star” director apologized, stating that “I made a thoughtless comment equating what I do in the film world with all that Serena Williams and Venus Williams have achieved.” the filmmaker claimed she “did not intend to devalue these two legendary Black women and world-class athletes.”

She 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 history-making filmmaker, later spotted at a Netflix after-party with Venus, taking photos donning smiles, told the publication she never meant to “minimize remarkable women” during her acceptance speech. “I love Serena and Venus. Their accomplishments are titanic and inspiring. Serena and Venus, I apologize and completely celebrate you,” she added.

Many critics online scolded Campion and accused the artist of taking cheap shots at the Black sporting figures to boost herself further. “How exactly does diminishing and stomping all over the constant misogynoir Venus and Serena face help you, a white woman, climb the ladder…how ugly and privileged of you,” questioned one Twitter user. “I need some people to enjoy the sound of their own voices a little bit less.” 

In a recent post where she called out the New York Times for mistakenly using a photo of Venus when it covered the more than $100 million Serena raised for her new venture capital fund, Serena described the editing mistake amounted to her not meeting society’s standard despite her illustrious career. 

“No matter how far we come, we get reminded that it’s not enough,” the sporting legend wrote on Twitter early Wednesday morning on March 2. “This is why I raised $111 M for @serenaventures,” the 41-year-old remarked. “To support the founders who are overlooked by engrained systems woefully unaware of their biases. Because even I am overlooked. You can do better, @nytimes.”

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