An Australian cartoonist has defended his depiction of Serena Williams at the US Open, after the image went viral and was criticised as racist and sexist.
Mark Knight’s newspaper cartoon showed Williams jumping above a broken racquet next to a baby’s dummy. Critics said it used racist stereotypes.
The cartoonist denied it was racist, saying he had intended to depict only the tennis player’s “poor behaviour”.
Some also said Knight had “whitewashed” Japanese player Naomi Osaka.
Williams sparked controversy during her loss to Osaka, whose father is Haitian and mother Japanese, when she accused the umpire of sexism and being a “thief”.
Knight’s drawing was published in Australia’s most-read newspaper, the Herald Sun on Monday, and referenced Williams’s outburst and showed the umpire asking Osaka: “Can you just let her win?”
Serena Williams and ‘angry black women’
It has been strongly defended by Knight and the newspaper’s editor, Damon Johnston, who denied the cartoon is racist or sexist.
“It rightly mocks poor behaviour by a tennis legend… Mark has the full support of everyone,” he said in a tweet.
Others on social media pointed out that Osaka, who is mixed race, had been drawn as a white woman with blonde hair.
The National Association of Black Journalists in the US denounced the cartoon as “repugnant on many levels”.