The Australian cartoonist who created the so-called ‘racist’ depiction of tennis star Serena Williams having an outburst during the US Open claims that the ‘world’s gone crazy’, after he received a global backlash.
Mark Knight, the editorial cartoonist for Herald Sun defended his controversial illustration that was published in the newspaper on Monday. The illustration received online criticism from many people across the world, including author J.K. Rowling and rapper Nicki Minaj, who branded him ‘c***sucker of the day’.
Knight, however, says that he simply made the drawing after he witnessed ‘the world’s greatest tennis player spit the dummy’.
He told radio station 3AW:
“It’s a cartoon about poor behavior. It’s nothing to do with race.”
“I’m sorry it’s been taken by social media and distorted so much.” – he added.
He also said that he wanted to reply to the comments made by people on the social media, but they wouldn’t listen.
“She’s (Williams) great to draw, she’s a powerful figure, she’s strongly built.”
Mr. Knight was also backed by the Herald Sun, and the paper’s editor Damon Johnston said that Knight’s cartoon had shown that a champion tennis player had a mega tantrum on the world stage, but it had nothing to do with race or gender.
Michael Miller, the Executive Chairman of News Corp Australia also supported Knight’s cartoon.
He wrote on his Twitter page:
“Criticism of Mark Knight’s Serena Williams cartoon shows the world has gone too PC & misunderstands the role of news media cartoons and satire. Poor behavior in any sport needs to be called out”
Williams is depicted as a baby that is having a tantrum on the court. She is shown with enlarged lips and nose, and her cheekbones have been emphasized. There’s a dummy next to her feet, while she is jumping in the air with her fists clenched in frustration.
Naomi Osaka, the 20-year-old Japanese tennis player who won the match is shown in the background.
She, on the other way, is depicted as slender, white and blonde, and looking up hopefully towards umpire Carlos Ramos.
Knight shared the cartoon on his Twitter along with the newspaper, but it was immediately slammed by critics around the world. Some even compared it to a Jim Crow-era representation of black women.
According to America’s National Association of Black Journalists, the illustration was ‘unnecessarily sambo-like’.
The NABJ 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.”
These are some of the comments that people had about his illustration: