Serena Williams cartoon
Serena Williams cartoon garners backlash for 'racist' depiction of the tennis star. Credit: Herald Son/Mark Knight

Australian cartoonist Mark Knight has come under fire for his Serena Williams cartoon. Following the tennis star’s performance at the U.S. Open on Saturday after being penalized and ultimately losing to 20-year-old Naomi Osaka, Williams’ match made major headlines for her outbursts.

Williams became angry after the chief umpire gave her a warning, reprimanding her for receiving coaching. Irritated, the 36-year-old smashed her tennis racquet, a second violation that cost her points. When Serena demanded an apology from the ump for ‘stealing’ points from her, he then hit her with a third violation for verbal abuse.

By Sunday, a cartoon poking fun at Serena Williams and her tantrum was published by the Herald Sun, enraging celebrities and the public for what they have deemed a ‘racist’ depiction of the tennis star.

Serena Williams cartoon deemed racist, sexist after outburst


J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, was outraged by Knight reducing Serena Williams to a ‘to racist and sexist tropes.’


Democratic candidate for Florida's 18th Congressional District Pam Keith also called out Knight for the Serena Williams cartoon, referring to the depiction as something from the 1930’s.

Serena Williams cartoon artist defends himself

Knight has since publicly come out to defend himself, stating that his Herald Sun cartoon was more about Serena Williams’ behavior at the US Open.

“The cartoon about Serena is about her poor behavior on the day, not about race,”  Mr. Knight said in an article on the Herald Sun website about the backlash.

The Herald Sun’s editor, Damon Johnston, also supported Knight and his cartoon.

“A champion tennis player had a mega-tantrum on the world stage, and Mark’s cartoon depicted that,” he said. “It had nothing to do with gender or race.”

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