JK Rowling leads condemnation of 'racist and sexist' cartoon of Serena Williams at US Open final
Mark Knight's cartoon of Serena Williams depicts her with a smashed racket and a pacifier following the US Open loss
On Monday, the Herald Sun, an Australian newspaper, published a controversial cartoon of Serena Williams portrayed as an angry baby just two days after the Tennis legend lost the US Open final.
The chair umpire slapped Williams with three code violations on Saturday during her loss to Naomi Osaka.
The first violation was when Williams' coach gestured to her during the match, which she argued saying “I don’t cheat to win – I’d rather lose.” Later, Williams received another violation after she smashed her racket - thereby costing her a point. But that wasn't the end of it. She then called chair umpire Carlos Ramos a "thief," resulting in her third violation of the match and ultimately costing her the game, reported Business Insider.
Williams went on to talk to the referee to protest Ramos' call and demanded an apology from him. According to her, male players weren't consequenced for similar, or even worse, offenses. “Because I’m a woman, you’re going to take this away from me?” she said.
According to the Associated Press, Williams was fined $US17,000 for said violations, which is barely a scratch on her total prize money - a staggering $US1.85 million - as the tournament’s runner-up.
The whole fiasco was enough fodder for creativity; Mark Knight, the Herald Sun's editorial cartoonist, targeted Williams' behavior and made it the subject of his newest work.
In the controversial image, the 23-time Grand Slam winner is portrayed with an oversized nose, lips, and is shown stomping on a broken racket with a pacifier nearby - suggesting that her behavior was child-like during the final bout. The artwork also shows the 20-year-old champion, Naomi Osaka, in the backdrop, with the umpire asking her, “Can you just let her win?”
The cartoon was blasted by quite a few celebrities, including author J.K. Rowling, who said, "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."
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
Jemele Hill of ESPN described the racism as "about as subtle as Fran Drescher’s voice," reported TMZ.
Quite a few fans of the veteran player voiced their disapproval on Twitter and echoed Williams' claims of racism.
“Regardless of the rights and wrongs of Williams’ behavior, I really don’t like that cartoon at all,” one Twitter user said. “Why is Naomi Osaka suddenly transformed into a white, blonde player? Why is Carlos Ramos white too? And why are Serena Williams’ facial features distorted like that?”
Another Twitter user said: “Thank you for this cartoon. I will be sure to use it when I write about how Black women are treated and characterized for speaking up for themselves. The way you have drawn both women speaks volumes about who you are and how you feel about Black women. Shame.”
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
Mark Knight was, however, unperturbed by the social media criticism that came with his drawing. He pushed back claims of racism and sexism by tweeting, “Don’t bring gender into it when it’s all about behavior."
In response to the accusations, Knight posted another one of his cartoons, featuring a male player - Nick Kyrgios. In the cartoon, Kyrgios is apparently receiving a "pep talk" by a male Tennis official after appearing "sulky" during a tournament. In the other panel, a woman is shown holding Kyrgios by the ear.