Culture

International Celebs Are Dragging A Herald Sun Cartoonist Over His Depiction Of Serena Williams

J.K. Rowling and Nicki Minaj have labelled the cartoon racist.

Serena Williams Mark Knight

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Herald Sun cartoonist Mark Knight has caused international outrage with a cartoon of tennis great Serena Williams, with the likes of J.K. Rowling and Nicki Minaj slamming the image as racist.

The cartoon appeared in Monday’s edition of the News Corp tabloid, and features a racially tinged caricature of Williams jumping up and down on her racket in anger. A baby’s dummy lies on the court next to her, while in the background the umpire can be seen asking her opponent to “just let her win”.

The depiction of Williams includes facial features reminiscent of racist depictions of black people in cartoons from the 19th and 20th centuries.

It comes after Williams got into a verbal altercation with an umpire during her recent US Open loss to Naomi Osaka. The confrontation saw her penalised a game and fined US$24,000, and has sparked debate over whether she was the victim of a sexist double standard.

Knight’s cartoon has drawn fierce condemnation both in Australia and overseas.

Knight has since responded to the controversy, telling Melbourne radio host Neil Mitchell that the cartoon had “nothing to do with race”.

“The world’s gone crazy,” insisted Knight. “It’s a cartoon about poor behaviour.”

“I’m sorry it’s been taken by social media and distorted so much,” he added.

For what it’s worth, this is the second time in less than a month that Knight has been criticised as racist, with the artist coming under fire in August for this cartoon about African youths in Melbourne.

Knight has also taken issue with the suggestion that the cartoon of Williams is sexist. When US sportswriter Julie DiCaro suggested Knight would not depict a male player in the same negative light, Knight responded by tweeting a cartoon he drew of Nick Kyrgios several days earlier.

“Don’t bring gender into it when it’s all about behaviour. I’ll accept your apology in writing.” he wrote.