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A Cartoonist’s Drawing Of Serena Williams At The US Open Final Is Causing Outrage

“The person who drew this is garbage.”

Posted on September 10, 2018, at 12:29 p.m. ET

A cartoonist’s depiction of tennis star Serena Williams after the controversial US Open final is being labeled “racist” and “sexist.”

@Knightcartoons cartoon is not racist or sexist .... it rightly mocks poor behavior by a tennis legend ... Mark has the full support of everyone @theheraldsun https://t.co/KWMT3QahJh

The cartoon, which was drawn by Mark Knight and appeared in Monday’s edition of Australian tabloid the Herald Sun, comes after an intense final at the US Open in which the 36-year-old clashed with umpire Carlos Ramos, who accused her of receiving instruction from her coach in the stand, which is against the rules.

The image shows the 23-time Grand Slam winner with enlarged lips, a larger figure, and a broken racket and a pacifier on the ground, suggesting her conduct at Sunday’s match was childlike.

Williams was subsequently fined $4,000 for the coaching warning, $3,000 for smashing her racket, and $10,000 for the “verbal abuse” directed at Ramos, the USTA told BuzzFeed News.

The image also showed Ramos — looking somewhat younger — saying: “Can you just let her win?” to Williams’ opponent.

Elsa / Getty Images / Via gettyimages.co.uk

Knight appeared to double down on his illustration when he was challenged online. He tweeted: “Don't bring gender into it when it’s all about behaviour.”

Mark Knight's belated critics may like to know the first daily newspaper cartoon he had published satirised one of a long line of tennis brats to disgrace themselves on court, writes @Andrew_Rule >> https://t.co/20StOooNOy #knightcartoons #serenawilliams https://t.co/oDMQaLL0W5


Knight has also been accused of erasing Naomi Osaka’s heritage by portraying her as a white woman with straight blonde hair in the cartoon.

@Knightcartoons @theheraldsun @usopen The Haitian-Japanese player is blonde? Cool story bro.

@Knightcartoons @theheraldsun @usopen You manage to be racist on several different levels here, not only in how you depict Serena, but also in erasing Naomi into a skinny blonde. Impressively shitty work.

@Knightcartoons @theheraldsun @usopen Hi, can you please tell me why Naomi Osaka is white with blonde hair in this picture?

Osaka, a 20-year-old born to a Japanese mother and a Haitian father, pulled off a huge upset to win the trophy, becoming the first Japanese-born player to win a Grand Slam singles title.

Alex Pantling / Getty Images

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling was among those who called out Knight for his cartoon, describing it as “racist” and “sexist.”

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

@KatHeartwell @Knightcartoons @JulieDiCaro @theheraldsun @usopen Honestly, he went out of his way to make her look like an animal. No way you can tell me someone at his level of skill doesn't see that he exaggerated this dude in a way that at least kept his likeness. Meanwhile, Serena's is so stretched, I wouldn't know it was her at all.

@Knightcartoons @theheraldsun @usopen It’s 2018 how is this cartoon considered ok? This is going back to the early Disney racist disgusting characterizations of Black People. Just dehumanizing. Then, you made #NaomiOsaka into a white girl with blonde hair ? This is not just an insult to #Serena but to all Black Women

How does Mark Knight still have a job? And who approved the cartoon? His racist depiction of @serenawilliams is sickening. A sober reminder how far we still have to go.

@Knightcartoons @theheraldsun @usopen The levels of racism and black caricaturism is astounding. The person who drew this is garbage.

Some people pointed out that, in their opinion, it wasn’t the first time a Mark Knight cartoon had caused offense.

Mark Knight is a racist cartoonist. I won't share his work to blow his name up any further, but the Serena cartoon is not an isolated incident.

Last month, his cartoon of Australian MP Jacinta Allan standing at a train platform with black figures behind her fighting and causing destruction caused outrage.

The cartoon followed her announcement that she would stop Sky News from broadcasting in Victorian train stations and was captioned: “Minister Jacinta Allan takes decisive action to keep the Victorian public safe… and bans Sky News on city stations.”

Herald Sun editor Damon Johnston took to Twitter to defend Knight and rejected the accusations that the cartoon was racist and sexist. He told his followers: "Mark has the full support of everyone @theheraldsun."

Knight responded to the barrage of criticisms in an interview with 3AW's Neil Mitchell where he maintained that the purpose of the cartoon was to capture "poor behaviour" and had nothing to do with race or gender.

He said: "It's a cartoon about poor behaviour ... People said I’m racist because I drew Serena as an African-American woman. I drew her as a powerful figure, which is what she is. She's strongly built."

He also rejected claims that he had intentionally white-washed Williams' opponent, Osaka, and blamed social media for creating the narrative.

"There’s nothing inaccurate in the cartoon but I’m sorry it has been taken by social media and distorted so much," said Knight.

BuzzFeed News has contacted Knight and the Herald Sun for comment.

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