Cartoonist Mark Knight Comes Under Fire for Serena Williams Cartoon

Aubrey Yates
September 14, 2018

Australian newspaper Herald Sun reprinted a controversial illustration of Serena Williams after her argument at the US Open.

Herald Sun editor Damon Johnston also jumped to Knight's defence, saying in a tweet that the cartoon "rightly mocks poor behaviour by a tennis legend".

The cartoon depicts Serena's confrontation with umpire Carlos Ramos during the US Open final, showing the tennis superstar destroying her racquet with a child's dummy lying on the ground next to her.

Her opponent, Japanese and Haitian player Naomi Osaka, was shown as a blonde woman.

The front page also features cartoons of other of well-known figures, including Donald Trump, claiming they would all also be banned, with the headline "Welcome to the PC world".

"I think it's really interesting that the Herald Sun has not included really any other caricatures or cartoons of black people - either Aboriginal people or African-American people, black people of any descent", Clarke, who is of Afro-Caribbean descent, told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Williams' outburst and the harsh penalties given to her opened up a number of debates both inside and outside tennis about Williams' outburst. "The world has just gone insane". She later was fined $17,000 ($10,000 for verbal abuse, $4,000 for the coaching violation and $3,000 for racket abuse).

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Meanwhile a Washington Post article said the cartoon used "dehumanising" facial features, while Brenna Edwards, a black journalist who reports on news and politics for Essence magazine in the United States, told ABC News the picture "dates back to the Jim Crow era". "I think that's probably the context of the conversation". "I felt it was telling that white men had somehow managed to make such an historic event, shared by two women of colour, about them and their misplaced rage".

"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", Rowling wrote on Twitter.

While losing Saturday's final to Japan's Naomi Osaka, Williams smashed her racket and called the umpire a "thief" and "liar".

"When I drew President Obama, I always focused on his eyebrows, his chin, his ears and his mole".

He added: "I'm not going to say I'm not going to draw that because it's a no-go area".

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.

Mark has the full support of everyone". "Regardless of whether that was the cartoonist's intention, [racist caricatures are] an important frame through which many people will understand the image - and I find it very hard to believe that Knight would not be aware of those connotations", says Dr Tom Davies, senior lecturer in American History at the University of Sussex.

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