A recent Serena Williams sketch by Australian cartoonist has sparked controversy for allegedly being racist and sexist.
Mark Knight ‘s caricature in Melbourn’s Herald Sun showed fat-lipped Serena Williams jumping up and down on broken racquet. It also depicted umpire saying Serena’s opponent Naomi Osaka “Can’t you just let her win.”
Controversy Around Serena Williams Sketch
The celebrities, like J.K Rowling, widely criticized Serena Williams sketch by Mark Knight. The Harry Potter writer described this caricature as “sexist and racist trope.”
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
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) September 10, 2018
Apart from the J.K Rowling’s criticism many factions in the US media also criticized what appeared to them a racist Serena Williams Sketch.
Sunny Hostin, an ABC correspondent described the cartoon as the “perfect example of racism and sexism dealt with at the US Open final.”
A perfect example of the racism and sexism @serenawilliams dealt with at the US Open Final and that other women of color deal with everyday. Is this what you mean to portray @Knightcartoons ?? https://t.co/7eXDVeJBgj
— Sunny Hostin (@sunny) September 10, 2018
The Guardian sports observer Anna Kessel also slammed Mark Knight for his racist caricature that deliberately showed Naomi Osaka as a non-black woman.
Whatever you think of the Serena Williams situation, I think we can all agree that this cartoon is disgusting. Erasing Naomi Osaka’s blackness alongside a grossly racialised caricature of Serena, invoking racist stereotypes, is obscene. https://t.co/Z09T7rt5tt
— Anna Kessel (@Anna_Kessel) September 10, 2018
Mark Knight’s Response to Allegations
The cartoonist also came to the robust defense of Serena Williams Sketch. He argued that it was not about portraying racism and sexism but satirically describing the Williams’ behavior with the umpire at the tennis court.
While replying to the sportswriter Julie DiCaro’s tweet where he asked Knight if he drew any cartoons on male tennis players who broke their racquets during the match, he gave some example from his past work. The cartoonist further went to explain that Serena Willims sketch he drew for Herald was not racist but meant to elaborate her bad behavior.
Mark Knight’s Colleague Defending His Caricature
Not everyone believed Serena Williams Sketch to be entirely racist and sexist. Many thought it to be a real depiction of poor behavior irrespective of highlighting the gender or race. It seems that those who defended this cartoon have ignored how Naomi Osaka who won the title, was not shown as black.
Editor of the Sunday’s Herald Sun, Nick Papps applauded Mark Knight in a tweet and described him as a man of the highest character.
He also shared Herald’s past publications that featured the articles on Serena Williams and described her as “Serena The Great.”
Serena Williams has been revered by the Herald Sun for 20 years, and deservedly so. Does any outlet, anywhere, celebrate her achievements more than this? The notion of racism is totally misguided. A true legend, but her tantrums were news and warranted the attention. pic.twitter.com/6PEueQAkVa
— Peter Blunden (@PeterBlunden_) September 11, 2018
What Was Controversy All About?
Williams who has won 23 grand slam single titles called Portuguese umpire Carlos Ramos a liar and a thief for allegedly stealing a point from her. She was playing US Open final against Naomi Osaka on Saturday, September 8. Willims who eventually lost the match to Osaka was also fined $17,000 for her outburst against the umpire.