Serena Williams made headlines (and was fined $17,000) for her outburst over the officiating nightmare at the U.S. Open women’s final on Saturday. It was a polarizing moment, with Williams calling out the double standard for the conduct women’s tennis players and the inconsistent application of the rules. Now, days after the incident, a newspaper cartoonist from Australia has put his spin on it. And his spin is really, really racist.
The Herald Sun’s racist cartoon
Editorial cartoonist Mark Knight of the Australian newspaper the Herald Sun was so proud of his Serena Williams-U.S. Open cartoon, which was published in the newspaper, that he posted it on his Twitter account early Monday morning.
If you’re wondering why he was proud, you’re not alone. He depicts Serena Williams, one of the greatest athletes of all time, as a racist stereotype, with a huge nose and big lips. She’s drawn like a Hulk baby, her strength and power twisted into infantile ugliness as she stomps on her racquet with a pacifier on the ground.
As if the racist depiction of Williams wasn’t enough, there’s more. Naomi Osaka, who beat Williams on Saturday, is Japanese-Haitian. But in the cartoon, she’s drawn as a busty, blonde white woman. And the only words in the cartoon are uttered by the umpire, who says “Can’t you just let her win?” That makes it seem like he played zero part in Saturday’s controversy, but it also implies that Williams needs to be “allowed” to win because she’s not talented enough or because she’s too “angry.”
Twitter’s response was swift and angry
When it comes to racist Serena Williams cartoons, Australia seems to be leading the charge. Because there’s another racist cartoon about Serena Williams, and it comes from Paul Zanetti, a syndicated cartoonist from Australia.
It even spurred a comment from “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling.
Considering that the racism in Knight’s cartoon was so immense that it could have been spotted from space, Twitter jumped on it immediately and called it out for what it was: racist, hurtful, and 100% unnecessary.
There was another racist cartoon, because of course there was
In this one, Williams is drawn like a racist stereotype again, with the big lips and nose, and very defined cheeks. Additionally, she barely looks like a woman, which is obviously intentional. She’s holding up a sign and being approached by a Nike executive, in an effort to tie in the brand’s recent Colin Kaepernick commercial and make it look like Williams fighting for herself on the court was just a PR move.
Williams’ race isn’t brought up in the text of the cartoon itself, but she’s still drawn like a racist stereotype. Zanetti made the choice to draw her that way, when drawing Williams like a person wouldn’t have changed the overall meaning of the cartoon at all. But he did draw her that way, because the point of the cartoon is to make Williams look bad, not just for challenging the double standard of women’s conduct in tennis and being emotional on the court, but apparently just for being African-American.
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