This Serena Williams Cartoon Is So Racist — It’s Mind-Boggling

“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.”



After Serena Williams, arguably one of the best tennis players of all time, was penalized by chair umpire Carlos Ramos for code violations in the U.S. Open 2018 women’s final against Japan’s Naomi Osaka, she claimed the calls against her had a lot more to do with “sexism” than her behavior in the court.

Williams (and many others) alleged men have acted much more aggressively than her — who smashed her racquet in frustration — and gotten away with it.

As Osaka became the first Japanese-born woman to win a grand slam, the match would be remembered for Williams’ controversial confrontation with Ramos and the allegations that followed.

The on-court argument became a world-wide trend on social media sites and an Australian cartoonist also decided to weigh in on the event.

However, his cartoon was so blatantly racist, it followed immense backlash.

Mark Knight, the editorial cartoonist for the Herald Sun in Melbourne, depicted Williams stomping on her racquet with a pacifier lying close by. The caricature is so far off how Williams actually looks like that if one removes the tennis court from the equation, it would be hard to tell who the cartoon depicted. The cartoon showed a typical racist “angry Black woman” trope and people were not happy.

However, an angry, almost unrecognizable “Williams” wasn’t the only problem with the cartoon.

In the background, it showed the chair umpire, talking to what must have been Osaka but looked nothing like her; rather it looked like a white woman with straight blonde hair — Osaka is a Japanese-Haitian.

The chair is asking Osaka, “Can you just let her win?”

The cartoonist was panned for “racist and sexist tropes” by Twitter users, including the likes of J.K. Rowling.








But the cartoonist does not seem close to backing down or offering an apology.

“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,” Knight said, speaking to the Australian Broadcasting Corp. “That’s what the cartoon is about, her poor behavior on the court. Nothing to do with gender or racism at all.”

Of the criticism of his cartoon, he claimed people were “making stuff up” to bash his work.

In a previous attempt to prove his cartoon was not “sexist” or “racist,” he posted another one of his work which featured male player Nick Kyrgios, receiving a pep talk after appearing “sulky.”

If Knight was trying to use the cartoon to prove that his work isn’t racist or sexist, this cartoon surely was not an apt choice.

In the Kyrgios cartoon it also showed that women are treated differently than men on court. It showed that while a male official gave the player a “pep talk,” while a female official dragged him on to court by his ear.


Amid the controversy, Herald Sun stood firmly behind their cartoonist, releasing a statement in Knight’s support.

“A champion tennis player had a mega tantrum on the world stage, and Mark’s cartoon depicted that,” editor Damon Johnston said. “It had nothing to do with gender or race.”

The National Association of Black Journalists offered a seething rebuke of the cartoon and Williams’ depiction in it.

“The Sept. 10 cartoon not only exudes racist, sexist caricatures of both women, but Williams’ depiction is unnecessarily sambo-like,” it said in a statement. “The art of editorial cartooning is a visual dialogue on the issues of the day, yet this cartoon grossly inaccurately depicts two women of color at the US Open, one of the grandest stages of professional sports.”

Banner / Thumbnail : Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY SPORTS

View Comments

Recommended For You