Mark Knight's Serena Williams Cartoon Criticized for Racist Depiction

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistSeptember 10, 2018

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 08:  Serena Williams of the United States reacts looks on after her defeat in the Women's Singles finals match to Naomi Osaka of Japan as umpire Carlos Ramos leaves the court on Day Thirteen of the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 8, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

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:

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. 

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