This weekend tennis legend Serena Williams had a dispute with umpire Carlos Ramos during her U.S. Open final match against Naomi Osaka. Their exchange has since been at the center of much discussion, largely overshadowing Osaka’s historic win.
Cartoonist Mark Knight chose to memorialize the argument with a cartoon in the Herald Sun.
He also posted the image on his personal Twitter.
— Mark Knight (@Knightcartoons) September 10, 2018
Knight portrayed Williams in an incredibly racist and sexist manner. The image perpetuates the “angry black woman” stereotype and depicts her in a way that reeks of the social insensitivity of the 1800s instead of 2018’s allegedly progressive stances on race and gender equality.
Furthermore, Osaka’s Haitian-Japanese heritage, the details which marked exactly why her win was so historic, is completely whitewashed in Knight’s depiction.
Naturally, people are furious. One such person is Harry Potter author and Twitter savant, J.K. Rowling.
Rowling took to her favorite weapon, the keyboard, to call Knight out.
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
Despite the controversy he drummed up, Knight told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that he won’t be taking the cartoon down.
Knight defended his drawing, saying:
When I watched the U.S. Open, I was sitting there like everybody else, and I saw the world No. 1 tennis player have a huge hissy fit and spit the dummy. That’s what the cartoon is about, her poor behavior on the court. Nothing to do with gender or racism at all.
He continued his weak defense:
I depicted her as I saw her in photographs at the U.S. Open.
But the internet has no desire to deal with his clearly sexist and racist portrayal.
Where was this cartoon for all the men who have broken their rackets over the years?
— Julie DiCaro (@JulieDiCaro) September 10, 2018
So where is the funny part in the cartoon?
— bhunu (@bhunuplds) September 10, 2018
Are you the staff cartoonist for the Klan?
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) September 10, 2018
This is embarrassing for you Mark.
— Chrishell Hartley (@Chrishell7) September 10, 2018
Enlarge the cartoon and look at how he portrays one of the most successful athletes in the world. Whether she was right or wrong he could have drawn the cartoon without the antiquated racist tropes.
— ?islandgal? (@lyde703) September 11, 2018
At the very least, the depiction of Serena is rude and the whole comic undercuts an uncomfortable situation in which both finalists were crying.
— Luke Basile (@LbrBasile) September 11, 2018
I don't know who this Mark Knight is, but I hope that people are ripping him a new one in the comments.
— Missy (@Misssharai) September 11, 2018
Somehow I guessed you work for the Murdochs.
— Friendly Bob Adams (@BobLockout) September 11, 2018
This comic is so racist. You not only made Serena look like those old racist depictions of black people, but you then erased Naomi’s entire heritage. This picture is awful
— Hannah Miller (@hannahmationdn) September 10, 2018
Hey @usopen — you have a trademark on your name. How about enforcing it here. Thanks.
— Toby (@uTobian) September 10, 2018
I think I’ll stick to re-prints of Peanuts.