A cartoon about Serena Williams’s on-court altercation with an umpire, published by Australia’s Herald Sun, has attracted broad condemnation around the world for being racist.
The illustration by Mark Knight depicts the tennis super star in a rage during her controversial US Open Final loss, with features that have been likened to stereotypical ‘Jim Crow’ caricatures common in the United States during the era of segregation, mocking and dehumanising African Americans.
Following its posting on Twitter on Tuesday by Knight the image was swiftly denounced, including by Harry Potter author JK Rowling.
“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 said, referring also to another cartoon by Knight which was recently similarly criticised.
“Knight draws facial features reflecting the dehumanizing Jim Crow caricatures so common in the 19th and 20th centuries,” commentator Michael Cavna for the Washington Post wrote.
Knight was unrepentant, saying: “Don’t bring gender into it when it’s all about behaviour,” adding that he had also drawn an image making fun of Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios for behaving badly.
The executive chairman of News Corp Australasia, which publishes the Herald Sun, defended Knight, claiming it was Political Correctness gone too far.
“Criticism of Mark Knight’s Serena Williams cartoon shows the world has gone too PC & misunderstands the role of news media cartoons and satire,” he said.