An Australian cartoonist has sparked outrage over his controversial depiction of Serena Williams following her epic meltdown at the US Open.
The cartoon has since gone viral, with some labelling it as a “racist” and “sexist” portrayal of the 23-time Grand Slam champion.
Mark Knight of the Herald Sun posted his illustration on Twitter on Monday morning, and it completely erupted – but he has since defended his work by saying the “world has gone crazy”.
The cartoon shows Serena Williams destroying her tennis racquet with a child’s dummy next to her.
In the background, Naomi Osaka is discussing with the chair umpire Carlos Ramos with a question posed from him in a speech bubble, “Can you just let her win?”.
The cartoon received an intense reaction online, with some high-profile people taking to social media to vent their opinions.
Well done on reducing one of the greatest sportswomen alive to racist and sexist tropes and turning a second great sportswoman into a faceless prop. https://t.co/YOxVMuTXEC
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) September 10, 2018
I’m not going to share that Mark Knight cartoon of Serena Williams but if you’ve seen it you’ll know it’s as racist as any Jim Crow era propaganda.
That it should be published at all, let alone in a major Australian newspaper, is shameful.
— Josh Melican (@jmmelican) September 10, 2018
You couldn’t be more racist if you tried – and you reeeeeaaally tried. Using those classic sambo tropes- enlarged lips, overexaggerated body parts to depict Serena as hyper masculine- next time just use an old ad from the 1800s- no one would notice the difference in your racism
— Skipperdee (@Skipperdee2015) September 10, 2018
Whatever you think of the Serena Williams situation, I think we can all agree that this cartoon is disgusting. Erasing Naomi Osaka’s blackness alongside a grossly racialised caricature of Serena, invoking racist stereotypes, is obscene. https://t.co/Z09T7rt5tt
— Anna Kessel (@Anna_Kessel) September 10, 2018
Holy crap. This Serena cartoon is racist AF & reminiscent Jack Johnson cartoons in 1910. Mark Knight should be fired. But any Herald Sun editors that would allow this, should fire themselves first. https://t.co/Usgd7pWH8b
— ChuckModi (@ChuckModi1) September 10, 2018
What's worse, completely whitewashed Naomi Osaka or… Whatever untalented & racist Mark Knight came up with? You choose. https://t.co/3NLYEhiwzX
— Bactérie (@Soso_sulfur) September 10, 2018
In 100 years' time, this cartoon will be viewed no differently than old images of Jim Crow, or the newspaper cartoons drawn of Jack Johnson. Mark Knight has just drawn his way into the history books. https://t.co/QWwduSkJbk
— Charles Thomson (@CEThomson) September 10, 2018
The saddest part about Mark Knight’s cartoon depiction of Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka, is that he believes that he has done nothing wrong and that everyone is overreacting and does not understand the art of caricature. Racist bigotry at its finest.
— NUFF (@nuffsaidny) September 10, 2018
Despite the massive backlash, Mark Knight provided a short response to the overwhelming response, telling critics to not bring gender into it.
“Here’s a cartoon I drew a few before when Australian male tennis player Kyrgios at the US Open was behaving badly,” Knight tweeted.
“Don’t bring gender into it when it’s all about behaviour. I’ll accept your apology in writing.”
Well Julie here’s a cartoon I drew a few days before when Australian male tennis player Kyrgios at the US Open was behaving badly. Don’t bring gender into it when it’s all about behaviour. I’ll accept your apology in writing😁 pic.twitter.com/NLV0AjPGsY
— Mark Knight (@Knightcartoons) September 10, 2018
The cartoon was produced in response to Williams’ meltdown in the US Open final against Japan’s Naomi Osaka.
Williams was fined US$17,000 (AU$24,000) by the US Tennis Association in the wake of her outburst.
The American star was fined for coaching, racquet abuse and for verbal abuse when she accused umpire Carlos Ramos of being “a thief” during Saturday’s stormy final.
Williams was incensed at the coaching violation, although coach Patrick Mouratoglou, sitting in her box, admitted that he was coaching when he moved his hands.
That violation carried a $4,000 fine, while a second violation for racquet abuse – after she smashed her racquet after dropping her serve in the fifth game of the second set – cost her $3,000.
The second violation also cost her a point in the match, sparking her renewed verbal attack on Ramos, a code violation that carried a $10,000 fine.
Her third code violation of the match also cost her a game, putting Osaka on the brink of what would be a 6-2 6-4 victory that made her the first Japanese player to win a grand slam title.
The combined fine is minuscule compared to Williams’ US$1.85 million (AU$2.6m) cheque for reaching the final but in line with other sanctions at the grand slam.
Cartoonist defends ‘racist’ Serena depiction
An Aussie cartoonist has broken his silence over a controversial depiction of Serena Williams that has sparked outrage.
Mark Knight of the Herald Sun posted his illustration on Twitter on Monday morning, sparking a firestorm of criticism.
The cartoon shows Serena destroying her tennis racquet with a child’s dummy next to her.
Many labelled the cartoon “racist” and “sexist”, but Knight says it had nothing to do with either of those things.
“I drew this cartoon Sunday night after seeing the US Open final, and seeing the world’s best tennis player have a tantrum and thought that was interesting,” he told the Herald Sun on Tuesday.
“It’s been picked up by social media in the US and my phone has just melted down.
“The world has just gone crazy.”
Knight said his cartoon was about Serena’s poor behaviour, rather than anything about gender of race.
“Three days before I had drawn a cartoon about Nick Kyrgios being led off by the ears, like you used to do with your children,” he said.
“The cartoon about Serena is about her poor behaviour on the day, not about race.”
Herald Sun editor Damon Johnston also defended the cartoon.
“A champion tennis player had a mega tantrum on the world stage, and Mark’s cartoon depicted that,” Johnston said.
“It had nothing to do with gender or race.”