Cartoonist’s sketch of Serena Williams evokes angry reactions, JK Rowling calls it racist

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An Australian cartoonist’s portrayal of tennis player Serena Williams as an angry player, desperate to win at the cost, has evoked angry reactions globally.

Serena Williams

This was after Serena was fined $17,000 for code violations and bad behaviour during the recent US Open’s Women’s singles final over the weekend. In the final, Serena’s conduct had earned her public ire even as the match umpire issued her warning for breaking her racquet and resorting to cheating during the match.

Her supporters had later constantly booed the new champion, Noami Osaka, even during the prize distribution ceremony, reducing the 20-year-old tennis sensation from Japan to tears. Such was her pain that at one point she even apologised to the US fans for defeating Serena, who she had always considered as her idol.

In his cartoon, Mark Knight from Australia shows butch and fat-lipped Serena jumping up and down in anger while breaking her racquet in anger. The chair umpire is seen asking Naomi, “Can’t you just let her win?”

Knight’s cartoon has truly gone viral with more than 42,000 likes and over 30,000 comments. Many users found his cartoon in poor taste and a touch racist. Celebrated author JK Rowling wrote, “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.”

Far from being fazed, Knight responded to his critics posting his recent cartoon about a male Australian tennis player, who too had earned public’s ire due to his bad behaviour. Knight wrote, “Well Julie here’s a cartoon I drew a few days before when Australian male tennis player Kyrgios at the US Open was behaving badly. Don’t bring gender into it when it’s all about behaviour. I’ll accept your apology in writing.”

Serena was eyeing her record 24th Grand Slam titles as she faced Naomi, a relatively inexperienced player. But, the veteran player was no match to Noami as soon she realised.

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