Power of the Dog director received backlash after saying the tennis icons didn't have to "play against the guys" like she does: "I did not intend to devalue these two legendary Black women."

The Power of the Dog director Jane Campion has acknowledged the power of choice words following her controversial Critics Choice Awards acceptance speech at Sunday night's ceremony.

In a statement to EW, Campion apologized for comparing her experience as a filmmaker in a male-dominated industry with the sports-focused journey of tennis icons Venus and Serena Williams, which she did while accepting her trophy for Best Director during the joint TBS and CW broadcast.

"I made a thoughtless comment equating what I do in the film world with all that Serena Williams and Venus Williams have achieved. I did not intend to devalue these two legendary Black women and world class athletes," the statement reads, referencing the daughters of the titular Williams family patriarch played by Oscar frontrunner Will Smith in King Richard. "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."

During the show, Campion expressed her love to "the guys" in her nearly all-male competitive category, before turning her attention to the Williams sisters in the audience.

"Serena and Venus, you are such marvels," she said, "however, you do not play against the guys like I have to."

Jane Campion with Venus and Serena Williams
Jane Campion with Venus and Serena Williams at the 2022 Critics Choice Awards.
| Credit: Jerod Harris/Getty Images

Campion also recently spoke out about another Hollywood figure who criticized her place in the industry when she addressed 1883 actor Sam Elliott's controversial comments about her qualifications to helm The Power of the Dog — a movie that tells a story about the American West, with queer themes — as a woman from New Zealand.

"I'm sorry, he was being a little bit of a b-i-t-c-h, and, I'm sorry to say it, he's not a cowboy, he's an actor," Campion said on the DGA Awards red carpet, where she reaffirmed her status as the top contender for this year's Best Director prize at the Oscars. "The West is a myth exposed. There's a lot of room on the range. I think it's a little bit sexist because you think about the number of amazing westerns that were made in Spain by Sergio Leone. I consider myself a creator and I think he sees me a woman or something lesser first, and I don't appreciate that."

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King Richard (2021 movie)

Will Smith stars in this biopic about the father of tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams.

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