Veteran cartoonist Mark Knight has rejected suggestions his depiction of Serena Williams is “racist”, saying those condemning him are “making stuff up”.

The cartoon, published in the Herald Sun, was Mr Knight’s take on the controversial US Open final, which Ms Williams lost to Japan’s Naomi Osaka after being given three penalty points — one for coaching, one for breaking her racquet and another for verbal abuse of the chair umpire.

Ms Williams’ behaviour has divided onlookers, with some saying she was out of line and others believing she was the victim of overzealous or discriminatory officiating.

Mr Knight’s cartoon shows Williams stamping on her racquet with a dummy on the ground and the umpire telling Osaka, “Can you just let her win?”.

Mr Knight said his cartoon was only about Williams’ behaviour on the court and said those suggesting it was racist or sexist were misinterpreting it. “I saw the world number one tennis player have a huge hissy fit and spit the dummy.

That’s what the cartoon was about, her poor behaviour on the court,” he said.

“I’m not targeting Serena. I mean, Serena is a champion. “I drew her as an African-American woman. She’s powerfully built. She wears these outrageous costumes when she plays tennis. She’s interesting to draw. I drew her as she is, as an African-American woman.

“So, this whole business that I’m some sort of racist, calling on racial cartoons from the past, it’s just made up. It’s not there.”

“I find on social media that stuff gets shared around, and it’s like a sort of rolling thunder. It’s like a hurricane. It develops intensity way beyond its initial meaning,” he said.

“I think racial tensions in America are, of course, more heightened than here in Australia. And Americans may look at it in a different light. “No racial historical significance should be read into it.”

Reactions continue to build

Do you think it has racist undertones?

Share your comments below

  • I didn’t see any racist overtones, just putting sown a spoilt brat who should know better. It’s not the first time she has outraged people on the court when she is playing badly.


  • I don’t see the racist about it but maybe I am naive


  • I didn’t think it had anything about racism, it was about a professional player having a hissy fit. Bet if it was of any other player, I reckon she would have laughed about it herself.


  • I am not a fan of this cartoon.


  • Serena through a tantrum on court she is a professional tennis player and knows better. Also it was out of character for her to behave that way. When I saw the cartoon I didn’t see a racial tone. The cartoonist drew her in what Serena usually wears, her tantrum and her color skin.


  • All I see is a grown woman having a hissy fit


  • If you saw the other player, she looks half n half, part Japanese and part white person. And she did have a blonde pony tail, maybe not this blonde, but still blonde


  • Wasn’t the other player Japanese? Why is she blonde and Western looking?


  • Absolutely not! Caricatures by nature highlight certain aspects of a person. Serena Williams is a strong black American woman. That should not be considered racist. How else was he supposed to depict her? The outrage has been ridiculous. Her behaviour was apalling, as is Nick Kyrigos’ and others and it is always called out, as it should be. Serena is a superhuman awesome athlete. That does not override bad behaviour. The outrage is horrendous and off-putting. It’s the PC brigade at it again. I’m so glad Mark Knight’s employers stood up for him and showed their support. Clearly the US do not understand caricatures or cartoons. Interesting when that’s where they originated from.


  • Death treats are never ok.
    Cartoonists often pull things out of proportion, joking and ridiculing a situation with a hint of truth in it, it what cartoons are about.


  • Sexist and could have been toned down a bit……comments from below, HOW is it either?! It’s a caricature, they are over the top. As for sexist, I can’t see that at all


  • I think it was poor taste, but no one should get threats over it.

    • I agree – poor taste – but extreme reaction.


  • Overreacting much ?!?


  • The cartoon is very good but the drawing of the tennis player regardless of who the player is could have been toned down a bit.


  • I don’t see it as racist. I do see it as sexist, though. And it misses the point of what went on.

    • How is it sexist? All I see is a sook having a tantrum, no one looks good when having a tantrum. And he’s done a Nick Kyrios caricature too when he had a tanty too


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