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.
J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, was outraged by Knight reducing Serena Williams to a ‘to racist and sexist tropes.’
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
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.
Did you mean for this to come off as racist as it does? Because it was a punch to the gut. Felt like I was looking at an archived cartoon from the 1930s. Wow.... just, yeah.... wow. Whatever point you were trying to make, you revealed a WHOLE LOT more about you, than Serena— Pam Keith (@PamKeithFL) September 10, 2018
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.”