Australia paper defends Serena Williams cartoon despite outrage

Joann Johnston
September 12, 2018

In comments published by News Corp., Knight said that he created the cartoon after watching Williams' "tantrum" during her U.S. Open final loss to Naomi Osaka on Saturday and that it was designed to illustrate "her poor behaviour on the day, not about race". "Mark Knight has just drawn his way into the history books".

A controversial cartoon depicting Serena Williams having a tantrum on the court at the US Open lays bare the battles against prejudice that black women face at work every day, according to campaigners.

Williams was thwarted in her bid for a record-tying 24th Slam singles crown in losing to Japan's Naomi Osaka.

A number of people criticized Knight's cartoon as being racist, including Essence magazine editor Vanessa K. De Luca. I saw nothing abusive or malicious.

"I think it's disgusting".

"Knight draws facial features reflecting the dehumanising Jim Crow caricatures so common in the 19th and 20th centuries", Michael Cavna wrote.

In Britain, where fiercely competitive tabloids often trade in sensationalism, Rupert Murdoch-owned newspapers have been accused of sexism, racism and xenophobia over the years. The tennis player called the umpire a "thief" and claimed she was being treated differently to how men would be in the same context.

Many Australians agreed, and took to social media to express their bafflement at the extreme reaction to the cartoon. Then came Mark Knight's cartoon, which was immediately shredded to pieces for being "racist" and "sexist'".

"Regardless of race or sex, they are lampooned due to their behaviour", the editors wrote of the public figures it caricatured. That's what makes a cartoon different from a portrait.

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"It's been a huge response", said Today show host Georgie Gardner.

Freelance journalist Funmi Olutoye told HuffPost UK she thought the cartoon played into negative portrayals of the 14-times Wimbledon champion in the media.

"When I drew that cartoon, I wasn't thinking of racial politics in America".

"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", the author tweeted on Monday.

Comedian Kathy Griffin jumped in, as did Rapper Nicki Minaj on her Queen Radio show. "But I'm a cartoonist and I comment on all topics".

Yet, the rage of the fans across the world seems to have enough fire to threaten Australian cartoonist Mark Knight enough for him to have deleted his Twitter account facing huge backlash after he sketched a Serena cartoon on the Herald Sun.

The caricature was published alongside unflattering cartoons of US President Donald Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un.

Knight's depicting "the world's greatest tennis player spit the dummy" appears in the foreground with the caption: "Vetoed: Large hair and lips, too angry".

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