Mark Knight, the editorial cartoonist for Australia's Herald Sun newspaper, drew a cartoon interpretation of Serena Williams at the U.S. Open final from this weekend when the superstar was given a third code violation for arguing with chair umpire Carlos Ramos during her match against Naomi Osaka.
Knight's depiction of Williams has been criticized for relying on racist tropes, and the backlash against his cartoon was swift. High-profile figures such as Jemele Hill and J.K. Rowling lambasted the depiction:
They weren't alone:
Janet Shan @hinterlandg
.@theheraldsun Are you okay with Mark Knight's Jim Crow-era portrayal of Serena Williams as an angry black mammy with big lips threatening tiny white chair umpire? Doesn't his transformation of Japanese-Haitian Naomi Osaka into a white woman also come across as racist to you? https://t.co/4a1JYHgEZa
TMZ Sports was also critical of the cartoon, writing, "It looks like a Jim Crow-era, Sambo-style caricature of a black person—not Serena Williams."
Despite the backlash, Knight has not removed the offensive drawing from his Twitter page, and the Herald Sun retweeted his post.
Williams was given code violations by Ramos for receiving coaching during the match, for smashing her racket—which cost her a point—and for "verbal abuse" after arguing with Ramos, which cost her an entire game.
She was fined $17,000 by the U.S. Open for the violations, though she maintained after the match that receiving the three code violations was sexist, as many male tennis players have gone on tirades in the past and haven't been punished to the degree that Williams was in the final.