Serena Williams: Mark Knight defends ‘racist’ cartoon of tennis champ

Tabitha Dunn
September 13, 2018

A cartoon depicting Serena Williams has sparked outrage on Twitter after it was compared with racist illustrations of the Jim Crow character and images of black people in the Sambo books from the early 20th century, Aljazeera reports.

"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", Knight said in response to the backlash, according to the Herald Sun.

Mark Knight of Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper sparked a massive uproar on Monday when he posted his cartoon on Twitter.

The defence comes after many online denounced the cartoon for its exaggerated features of Williams where she is seen stomping on her racquet while the chair ump asks her opponent: "Can you just let her win?".

Serena Williams of the United States awaits the presentations after her controversial loss to Naomi Osaka of Japan in the Women's Singles Final on Arthur Ashe Stadium at the 2018 US Open Tennis Tournament at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 8th, 2018 in Flushing, Queens, New York City.

The detractors included author JK 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".

"Mark has the full support of everyone here".

Williams' behaviour divided onlookers, with some saying she was out of line and others believing she was the victim of overzealous or discriminatory officiating.

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After the match, Williams would declare, "I'm here fighting for women's rights and for women's equality and for all kinds of stuff". "It's getting harder to be a cartoonist in this insane anxious world - in this fragile angry humourless environment where leniency and understanding are in unsafe decline, and where psychic infections spread chaotically on social media with bad consequences".

Williams is one of a small number of black female tennis players and is the most frequently drug-tested professional woman in the sport. "It was about her integrity, and anybody who doesn't get that is perpetuating the erasure that so many black women feel when they are trying to speak up for themselves".

"It's a cartoon about poor behavior".

The newspaper defended the cartoonist, Mark Knight, on Tuesday.

'I think freedom of speech is so important.I hope that she can see the amusing side of it and I hope she is here in January.

The image by Australian cartoonist Mark Knight has created uproar in the U.S. with commentators saying it is an example of Australia's "blind racism".

Knight was criticised in some quarters for being "racist and sexist".

I've lived there, and watched people of colour be denied entry to bars for dress code reasons, only to watch white peeps stroll in moments later wearing shorts and flip flops.

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