The Oscars has seen way more than its fair share of fumbles in recent years, but the Academy did at least one major thing right on Sunday night: It kicked the show off the big show with a gorgeous performance by none other than Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, who opened the night with a musical number that paid tribute to Venus and Serena Williams, in tennis ball green, and the Oscar-nominated film about their lives.
The Williams sisters introduced Beyoncé from Los Angeles’ Dolby Theater, before the show cut away to the tennis stars’ native Compton, where she performed “Be Alive” from King Richard. The performance began with cameos by Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton, the impossibly adorable and talented young actors who played Venus and Serena in the movie.
King Richard is nominated for six awards tonight, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Will Smith, who starred as the Williams’s father, Richard, and Best Original Song for “Be Alive.”
Beyoncé performed from a tennis court, where she, her backup singers and dancers, and the entire band were wearing striking, neon green. Also featured in the performance? Blue Ivy, of course.
Many of the performers also sported the beaded braids that were the Williams’s signature look during their early years as young champs. The braids became an emblem of their status as Black girls from a working-class community, who would face years of racism from the rich, white, tennis elite.
If you, like me, thought Beyoncé must be most of the way towards EGOT-ing by now, you’ll be shocked to know that the only trophies from the glittery quadrumvirate that she’s earned so far are a ton of Grammys. But tonight could change all that. And, with respect to Encanto, that performance just made a hell of a case for Beyoncé Knowles, Oscar winner.