The social media squabbles on whether Serena Williams was reasonably punished for code violations during the US Open match didn't have time to settle down before Mark Knight, a cartoonist with the Herald Sun, fueled them with his latest cartoon, published on Twitter. In it, Williams is depicted as a spoiled child who destroys her racket in a furious rampage because she was losing, while the umpire enquires if the opponent could "just let her win."
During the US Open match, Williams received a warning from the umpire for coaching during the game, which is prohibited. She tried to contest it, but did so without success. She was then called for a second violation, losing one point for breaking her racket. Furious, Williams accused the umpire of "stealing" her point and demanded that he apologize. After that, the umpire penalized her for a third time for verbal abuse, costing her the entire game.
The cartoon stirred heated arguments in the comments section among social media users, who were divided in their opinions on the image. Many twitterians branded the cartoon blatantly racist.
I would say delete this, but this display of racism is so blatant in the year 2018 that it belongs in a museum to raise awareness to future generations about what African-Americans are going through today.— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) September 10, 2018
Obvious racism aside, who wouldn’t be outraged when their integrity was put into question? Men are ‘assertive’ in such cases, women are called something completely different. This type of disgusting sexism needs to END. I hope I see it happen in my lifetime.— ⚾️Paula🐾🐾 (@FabulousLVNV) September 10, 2018
Some added that it was both sexist and racist.
I can't decide which is more offensive, the sexism, the racism, or the fact that you seem proud either way.— Garrett Johnson (@stereofiasco) September 10, 2018
Seriously. Is this the result of some twisted, racist, misogynist, Rorschach test for cartoonists? Is this truly how Mark Knight saw Serena when she stood up for herself? & Osaka suddenly has blonde hair? Ugh…— J Brokaw (@Julesitter) September 10, 2018
Heated debates unfolded around the second player, who was depicted as being blonde and white, hardly corresponding to Williams' opponent in the game, Japan's Naomi Osaka.
The blonde hair? Who can't say… pic.twitter.com/JtfMnGjRFA— James Campbell (@J_C_Campbell) September 10, 2018
It's not difficult mate. Mark knew what he was doing when he drew this. pic.twitter.com/8DUmUWfRae— Frederick, Thanos' Sparring Partner™ (@PeacefulRulerX) September 10, 2018
Several Twitterians even found a racist message in it.
We're often told "it's not a race issue, it's not a race issue", yet you even proceeded to make the opposing tennis player — Naomi Osaka — White with blonde hair?— Frederick, Thanos' Sparring Partner™ (@PeacefulRulerX) September 10, 2018
Thank you for illustrating that only White women can "keep their cool/maintain decency".
Some noted, though, that it is not a "passport photo" and doesn't need to be that accurate.
So five inches of blonde is OK but ten inches makes him racist? R U OK? It's a newspaper cartoon not a passport photo.— James Campbell (@J_C_Campbell) September 10, 2018
When one of the twitterians noted that men also violate tennis rules and are not punished, the author replied with another cartoon, which he had drawn earlier.
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😁 pic.twitter.com/NLV0AjPGsY— Mark Knight (@Knightcartoons) September 10, 2018
Still, a lot of people on Twitter actually supported the author, noting that the tennis star had earned her punishment.
Serena is a PROFESSIONAL and has been playing for a long time. She should know the rules and the broadcasters even said the reason was most likely due to her continuous verbal attack. Serena was acting like a bully and has a history of it. Just Google Serena U.S. Open.— Yong Paik (@RealPaulPaik) September 10, 2018
but she did do it? she did get coached…. her coach could clearly be seen telling her to get to the net…— Harold P (@DanMorCock_69) September 10, 2018
Some suggested that Williams used the argument that she was actually fighting for women's rights as cover for her outrage.
Utter rubbish, she was extremely unprofessional in the way she spoke to the umpire. If you think otherwise you're as biased in your argument.— Lloyd Christmas (@HarlyBK) September 10, 2018