Will Smith wins Oscar for role in tennis film, moment marred by incident

Will Smith won the best actor Oscar for his depiction of Richard Williams, the father of tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams, two decades after his initial nomination.

The moment was eventually eclipsed by one of the most contentious moments in ‘live’ television history, when Smith appeared to smack presenter Chris Rock after the comic made a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

After the physical confrontation, Smith took his seat again, but twice angrily yelled at Rock twice to “keep my wife’s name out of your f***ing mouth”. Although some have questioned whether it was a staged incident, it was clear that the presenter battled to recover his composure after the altercation.

The film for which Smith won the Oscar is titled King Richard, and follows the life of Richard Williams, the father and coach of famed tennis players Venus and Serena Williams, who were executive producers of the film.

It has grossed $38 million against a budget of $50 million and received positive reviews from critics, with praise for the screenplay and the performances of Smith, who has earned a host of nominations and awards, including including the Academy Award, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Award.

In his Oscar acceptance speech, Smith thanked the Williams family “for entrusting me with your story,” saying he wanted to be an ambassador for love.

“Art imitates life,” he said. “I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things.”

Will Smith apologised to the Academy and his fellow nominees, but not Chris Rock

The tennis film and the role played by Smith is described as such: “Armed with a clear vision and a brazen 78-page plan, Richard Williams is determined to write his daughters, Venus and Serena, into history. Training on Compton, California’s neglected tennis courts–rain or shine–the girls are shaped by their father’s unyielding commitment and their mother’s balanced perspective and keen intuition, defying the seemingly insurmountable odds and prevailing expectations laid before them. Based on the true story that will inspire the world, “King Richard” follows the uplifting journey of a family whose unwavering resolve and unconditional belief ultimately delivers two of the world’s greatest sports legends.”

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