Richard Williams Says He Doesn't 'Condone' Hitting After Will Smith Smacks Chris Rock at Oscars

The father of Venus and Serena Williams — who is played by Will Smith in King Richard — weighed in after the Best Actor Oscar winner struck Chris Rock for making a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith

Venus Williams and Serena Williams' father has addressed Will Smith smacking Chris Rock at the 94th Academy Awards on Sunday night.

"We don't know all the details of what happened," Richard Williams' son and spokesperson Chavoita LeSane told NBC News on Richard's behalf. "But we don't condone anyone hitting anyone else unless it's in self-defense."

LeSane added that Richard, 80, was shocked to see Smith, 53, hit Rock, 57, after the comedian made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith's shaved head before presenting an award at the ceremony.

Later in the evening, Will won the Best Actor award for his portrayal of Richard in the critically acclaimed film King Richard.

When contacted by PEOPLE, LeSane said Richard "wants to congratulate Will on the Oscar," but did not provide additional comment.

Mike Marsland/WireImage; Uri Schanker/GC Images

During his acceptance speech Sunday night, Smith compared himself to his King Richard character, who was a "fierce defender of his family." He apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees while on stage, but did not personally apologize to Rock.

On Monday, Smith issued a formal apology to Rock via his Instagram, writing, "Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behavior at last night's Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable. Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada's medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally."

He added, "I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.

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Chris Rock and Will Smith at the Oscars on March 27, 2022. Robyn Beck/getty

"I would also like to apologize to the Academy, the producers of the show, all the attendees and everyone watching around the world. I would like to apologize to the Williams Family and my King Richard Family. I deeply regret that my behavior has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us. I am a work in progress."

Like her father, Serena also appeared to be shocked by the controversial moment. Shortly after the incident, Serena posted a video to her Instagram Story, which showed her speechless with her mouth open. In a second video, Serena said, "I just sat down, because I was like, I gotta put that drink down."

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The moment unfolded as Rock was presenting the award for Best Documentary. He said: "Jada, I love ya. G.I. Jane 2, can't wait to see ya," referencing her shaved head. Pinkett Smith has embraced the haircut after recently opening up about living with alopecia, a condition that causes rapid hair loss.

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Smith then walked onto the stage and struck Rock in the face. "Oh wow," said a seemingly taken-aback Rock as Will made his way back to the audience. "Will Smith just smacked the s— out of me."

"Keep my wife's name out your f—ing mouth!" Smith yelled up to the stage at Rock after taking his seat again.

"Wow, dude, it was a G.I. Jane joke," said Rock — to which Smith replied once again, "Keep my wife's name out your f—ing mouth!"

"I'm going to, okay?" Rock replied, before going on to say, "That was the ... greatest night in the history of television" and presenting the award.

In a statement shared Monday afternoon, the Academy denounced Smith's "actions," adding in part: "We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law."

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