Racist Serena Williams Cartoon Blasted By J.K. Rowling & Other Celebs

Cartoonist Mark Knight drew tennis great Serena Williams as a caricature of a black woman.

SEPTEMBER 08: Serena Williams of the United States reacts during her Women's Singles finals match against Naomi Osaka
Sarah Stier / Getty Images

Cartoonist Mark Knight drew tennis great Serena Williams as a caricature of a black woman.

A cartoon in an Australian newspaper which was meant to mock Serena Williams and the incident at the U.S. Open is being called out for its not-so-subtle racist tone. And the cartoon, drawn by Mark Knight for the Herald Sun, is being called out by celebs like Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling who calls it unacceptable.

TMZ is reporting that the cartoon depicts a Jim Crow-era black woman, intended to be Williams, stomping on her tennis racket which is crushed next to a pacifier. On the other side of the net, the referee is asking her opponent to throw the match.

“Can you just let her win?”

Author J.K. Rowling pushed back on Twitter suggesting that the only buffoon, in this case, is the cartoonist.

“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.”

British sportswriter Anna Kessel agrees, calling out the harsh racial tone of the cartoon, and particularly in the drawing of Williams.

“Whatever you think of the Serena Williams situation, I think we can all agree that this cartoon is disgusting. Erasing Naomi Osaka’s blackness alongside a grossly racialized caricature of Serena, invoking racist stereotypes, is obscene.”

ESPN’s Jemele Hill said that the cartoon is “about as subtle as Fran Drescher’s voice.”

But instead of backing down, the Herald Sun is actually retweeting the cartoon and sharing it elsewhere.

And now the cartoonist is defending the cartoon, says Huffington Post, saying that people are reading things into it that aren’t there.

“Don’t bring gender into it when it’s all about behavior.”

Knight points to the behavior of Williams on the court, stressing that his cartoon had nothing to do with gender, but tennis legend Billie Jean King said publicly that it has everything to do with gender because Williams would not have been in the position if she were a man.

“Ramos crossed the line. He made himself part of the match. He involved himself in the end result. An umpire’s job is to keep control of the match, and he let it get out of control.”

She added that as a woman of color, Williams is treated differently than other players and is held to a unique standard.

“Did Ramos treat Williams differently than male players have been treated? I think he did. Women are treated differently in most arenas of life. This is especially true for women of color. And what played out on the court yesterday happens far too often.”