Tue, 11 Sep, 2018Danielle McCarthy

Controversial Aussie cartoon of Serena Williams sparks backlash

Controversial Aussie cartoon of Serena Williams sparks backlash

An Australian cartoonist has sparked backlash after he tweeted a depiction of Serena Williams' meltdown in the US Open final.

Drawn by Herald Sun editorial cartoonist Mark Knight, the picture shows Williams in a fit of rage on the court with a baby’s dummy beside her.

In the cartoon, chair umpire Carlos Ramos is seen asking her opponent Naomi Osaka: “Can you just let her win?”

The controversial cartoon was quick to draw criticism, with US sportswriter Julie DiCaro saying that his depiction of the events was sexist.

She tweeted: “Where was this cartoon for all the men who have broken their rackets over the years?”

However, Knight defended his drawing, 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,” he wrote.

“Don’t bring gender into it when it’s all about behaviour. I’ll accept your apology in writing.”

Author JK Rowling also slammed the cartoon, saying: “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.”

America’s National Association of Black Journalists denounced the cartoon, arguing that the illustration was “unnecessarily sambo-like”.

“The art of editorial cartooning is a visual dialogue on the issues of the day, yet this cartoon grossly inaccurately depicts two women of colour at the US Open, one of the grandest stages of professional sports,” the NABJ said in a statement.

In an interview on Melbourne’s 3AW radio, Knight continued to defend the viral cartoon.

“The world’s gone crazy,” Knight said.

“It’s a cartoon about poor behaviour. It’s nothing to do with race.

“I drew this cartoon on Monday night, I saw the world’s greatest tennis player spit the dummy.

“She’s great to draw, she’s a powerful figure, she’s strongly built.

“I’m sorry it’s been taken by social media and distorted so much.

“I’ve tried to reply to these people but they don’t listen.”

Herald Sun editor Damon Johnston also supported the 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.”

The cartoon has since been retweeted 7600 times and received over 20,000 likes.

The cartoon depicted William’s verbal attack on chair umpire Ramos during her match against Japan’s Naomi Osaka on Saturday.

Williams received three code violations during the finals match – the first for receiving coaching, the second for racket abuse and the third for verbal abuse of the umpire.

The first penalty that sparked William’s anger was also questioned by WTA Tour chief executive Steve Simon and former tennis star Billie-Jean King. 

Do you think the cartoon is offensive? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.