The tennis icon, 40, shared a since-deleted Instagram Story video on Sunday, March 27, that showed her wide-eyed reaction to the instantly viral moment. “I just sat down ’cause I was like, ‘I gotta put that drink down,'” she added in a second deleted clip, moving her eyes side to side in an expression of confusion and disbelief.
The Men in Black actor, 53, surprised viewers and audience members on Sunday when he approached the stage and hit Rock, 57, after the stand-up legend joked that Jada, 50, could star in a G.I. Jane sequel because of her tightly buzzed haircut. After Will returned to his seat, he shouted, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f–king mouth!”
The Olympic gold medalist and her sister Venus Williams were on hand to support the movie King Richard, which they executive produced. Will played their father, Richard Williams, who famously trained his daughters to play tennis in their hometown of Compton, California, before they began practicing with pro coaches.
When the “Miami” rapper accepted the trophy for Best Actor in a Leading Role later in the evening, he referenced the incident with Rock as soon as he started his speech. “Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family,” the Philadelphia native began. “In this time in my life, in this moment, I am overwhelmed by what God is calling on me to do and be in this world.”
“I know to do what we do, you gotta be able to take abuse, and you gotta be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business, you gotta be able to have people disrespecting you and you gotta smile and you gotta pretend like that‘s OK,” Will said. “Denzel said to me a few minutes ago, he said, ‘At your highest moment, be careful. That’s when the devil comes for you.'”
Though some awards show viewers initially thought the tension between Will and Rock was scripted, an insider told Us Weekly that the moment was unplanned, adding that the Grown Ups actor rehearsed his speech with no mention of Jada. “Will was not in attendance for [the] rehearsal,” the source added.
Following the ceremony, Us confirmed that the Saturday Night Live alum did not file a report with local police. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences later shared a statement hinting at the incident. “The Academy does not condone violence of any form,” the organization tweeted. “Tonight we are delighted to celebrate our 94th Academy Awards winners, who deserve this moment of recognition from their peers and movie lovers around the world.”