A cartoon published on Monday in Australia most read newspaper, Herald Sun, to depict Serena Williams’ behaviour during the final of the US Open 2018, has sparked off racist row in the US. The cartoon was drawn by Autralian Cartoonist Mark Knight.
The drawing showed Serena Williams as a caricature, stomping over a broken racquet close to a baby’s dummy. The cartoon was reportedly drawn as a depiction of Serena’a tantrums in the Final of the US Open, where she lost to first-timer Osaka.
In the cartoon, Naomi Osaka was portrayed as white despite her Haitian and Japanese origin. Further, the cartoon depicts the umpire asking Naomi Osaka, the eventual winner of the game: “Can you just let her win?” Williams accused the umpire of sexism and called him a “thief” during her loss to Naomi Osaka.
It will be recalled that Serena Williams got a code violation for coaching, a penalty point for racquet abuse and a game penalty for calling the umpire a “thief” in the defeat by Naomi Osaka. She was also fined the sum of $17,000.00.
Reactions have trailed the cartoon. The Women’s Tennis Association has backed Serena Williams on her sexist comments. WTA chief executive, Steve Simon, said the umpire’s tolerance level would have been different if Serena Williams were a man.
He issued a statement: “The WTA believes that there should be no difference in the standards of tolerance provided to the emotions expressed by men versus women… We do not believe that this was done last night.”
Similarly, Harry Porter author, JK Rowling has condemned the cartoon saying it reinforces racism. JK Rowling is an unrepentant campaigner against bullying. She criticised Mark Knight for drawing the cartoon.
“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,” she tweeted.
In the mean time, the Editor of Herald Sun editor Damon Johnston, said that the cartoon has nothing to do with racism or gender. The cartoon was just to depict the behaviour of Serena Williams during the US Open final on Saturday, September 8 2018.
“A champion tennis player had a mega tantrum on the world stage, and (the) cartoon depicted that,” he said, apparently making reference to the cartoon published by Mark Knight on Monday.
The Editorial of the newspaper says that the cartoon rightly portrayed her actions writing: “Mark Knight’s cartoon depicting Williams destroying her racquet and jumping up and down, with a dummy spat nearby, mocked the star player for her behaviour”.
“Knight, like almost every cartoonist”, the Editorial continues, “mocks the powerful and famous when required; whether it be prime ministers like Malcolm Turnbull or presidents like Donald Trump. Regardless of race or sex, they are lampooned because of their behaviour”.
The Editorial emphasised and concluded that the cartoon “rightly mocked Williams for her dummy-spit and unsporting performance, which ultimately robbed Osaka of her chance to truly celebrate a terrific, inaugural triumph against a woman she described as her personal hero”.