Australian artist's 'racist, sexist' Serena Williams cartoon sparks outrage
Over the weekend, Naomi Osaka defeated Serena Williams at the women's US Open Final. However, Osaka's hard-foughtvictory was overshadowed by Williams' explosive argument with the umpire, Carlos Ramos. She received three violations during the second set, and claims that if she were a man, she would not have been treated so harshly.
The 23-time Grand Slam winner violated the code by receiving coaching gestures during the game. She claimed she never saw these gestures, saying, "I don't cheat to win. I'd rather lose." Then, after missing a shot, Williams smashed her racket in frustration, and Ramos docked her a point. She protested the decision, called him a 'liar' and a 'thief'. "Because I'm a woman, you're going to take this away from me?" she asked, and demanded an apology. The outburst cost Williams the final, and she received a $17,000 fine.
Critics called the penalties sexist because these types of code violations are selectively enforced, and players often passionately argue with officials. For example, at the 2016 French open, Australian player Nick Kyrgios confronted Ramos, yelling, "That's bullsh*t. Are you kidding?" He was given a point penalty, not a game penalty. And at the 2017 French Open, Rafael Nadal threatened Ramos, "Give me the warnings you can, because you will not referee me anymore." He was not given any penalties.
In response to the drama, Australian artist Mark Knight lampooned Williams in a cartoon for The Herald Sun. He portrays Williams as an angry, overweight baby, throwing a temper tantrum during the final. Many people were disgusted by the image. He exaggerated Williams' facial features in a manner reminiscent of racist caricatures of black people during the Jim Crow era. Also, Naomi Osaka, who is of Japanese and Haitian heritage, is depicted as a white woman with blonde hair.
The illustration sparked massive outrage on social media. Twitter user Julie DiCaro asked, "Where was this cartoon for all the men who have broken their rackets over the years?" Knight defended himself by posting a an unflattering cartoon of male tennis player Nick Kyrgios. However, that doesn't explain why he whitewashed Osaka, or portrayed Williams so harshly. She never furiously jumped up and down on her racket.
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling might have put it best, "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."
This isn't the first time sexist issues have come up during the Open. A week ago, there was a controversy over Williams' black catsuit. She wore the compression bodysuit because to aid circulation and prevent blood clots during play. Since she had her baby last September, this has been even more of a health issue. However, the president of the French Tennis Federation said outfits like the catsuit "go too far" and "one must respect the game and the place." (So, instead, Williams competed in a tutu and crushed it.)