On Saturday evening, Serena Williams lost the final of the U.S. Open to young Naomi Osaka who was in for one of the greatest moments of her life — but her moment was overshadowed.
An argument between Williams and Umpire Carlos Ramos is what took center stage, bringing with it a lot of ensuing drama. Now, a controversial cartoon depicting Williams having a meltdown has been called “sexist” and “racist,” but some have chosen to defend it.
Many have taken the situation at the U.S. Open as being one that has been blown out of proportion. Others see it as Ramos being unfair to Williams — due to the fact that she is a woman — as the multi-time Grand Slam champion claims the same penalties would not have been given to a male player.
The situation at the U.S. Open final was lampooned by cartoonist Mark Knight — who works for Melbourne Australia’s Herald Sun — to dramatic effect. The image shows an overly exaggerated Serena Williams stomping on her racket with a pacifier nearby on the ground.
In the background, the chair umpire can be seen speaking to Osaka and asking, “Can you just let her win?”
In the time that has elapsed since it was first published in the Herald Sun, the cartoon has received a lot of criticism, most complaints alleging that that the creative work and its creator are sexist, racist, or both.
The publication is standing by their cartoonist, and insists that Knight was not being offensive in any way.
“It had nothing to do with gender or race.”
— Herald Sun (@theheraldsun) September 10, 2018
Many others have stepped up and sided with Knight as well.
Mark Knight's cartoon was legitimate, appropriate commentary on Serena Williams' childish, overbearing tantrum. It was NOT racist. @Knightcartoons is Australia's best cartoonist. We need fearless artists like him poking fun at the powerful for health of our democracy, society.
— NickMcCallum7 (@NickMcCallum7) September 11, 2018
Sorry far-Left, the Mark Knight cartoon is not racist or sexist. #USOpen
— Joybrata Banerjee (@j_banerjee) September 11, 2018
While there are those who stand behind Mark Knight and the Herald Sun‘s decision to run the cartoon, there are many others speaking out against it.
A number of big names have hopped on social media to make their feelings known and they aren’t holding anything back. Some feel as if this cartoon is just another way of setting women’s rights back numerous decades as reported by the Los Angeles Times.
Not racist? pic.twitter.com/yJtfAxpxqM
— BlaqBrainySmurf (@blaqbrainysmurf) September 10, 2018
About as subtle as Fran Drescher’s voice ????????♀️ https://t.co/VM23b4XnlI
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) September 10, 2018
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. https://t.co/YOxVMuTXEC
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) September 10, 2018
Jemele Hill and J.K. Rowling were both responding to a tweet from Mark Knight’s Twitter account, a post that is no longer there. Actually, Knight’s entire account has disappeared from Twitter — which means he either deleted it himself or it has been suspended by the social media giant.
Has @knightcartoons deleted his racist disgusting Twitter account?
— Amy Wyatt ???????? ❄️ ???????????????????? (@Lewisno1fan) September 11, 2018
Naomi Osaka winning the U.S. Open on Saturday should have been the focus and spotlight of tennis news in the world, but unfortunately, it wasn’t. Serena Williams’ serious disagreement with the umpire took center stage and has since become a trigger subject complete with a cartoon many find offensive for various reasons.
Cartoonist Mark Knight and the Herald Sun may see nothing wrong with the image, but their defense of the cartoon is certainly drawing a lot of backlash.