Tuesday 25 September 2018

JK Rowling condemns 'racist and sexist' cartoon of Serena Williams

Naomi Osaka stands beside the defeated Serena Williams after Saturday’s night’s final. Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images
Naomi Osaka stands beside the defeated Serena Williams after Saturday’s night’s final. Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images
Serena Williams shouts at umpire Carlos Ramos during the US Open women’s final against Naomi Osaka. Photo: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY SPORTS
Serena Williams of the United States stands on the court after being assessed a game penalty in her match against Naomi Osaka of Japan (not pictured) in the women's final on day thirteen of the 2018 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Serena Williams, right, talks with referee Brian Earley during the women's final of the U.S. Open tennis tournament against Naomi Osaka, of Japan, Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, in New York.

Toyin Owoseje

Harry Potter author JK Rowling has condemned a cartoon of Serena Williams at the US Open as “racist and sexist”.

Mark Knight’s cartoon, which appeared in Australian newspaper Herald Sun, depicted the tennis star throwing a tantrum as a smashed racket and dummy lay on the court during the final against Naomi Osaka.

An Australian cartoonist has been criticised for this image of Serena William
(Photo by Mark KNIGHT / HERALD SUN / AFP)
An Australian cartoonist has been criticised for this image of Serena William (Photo by Mark KNIGHT / HERALD SUN / AFP)

Williams’ opponent is pictured as white and blonde despite her Japanese and Haitian heritage. The 20-year-old is seen reasoning politely with the umpire Carlos Ramos who asks, “Can you just let her win?”

Osaka went on claim a Grand Slam title after Williams’ on-court meltdown

JK Rowling, who has campaigned fiercely against bullying, criticised Knight after seeing the image of the sportswoman.

“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,” she tweeted.

Within minutes, the post had received more than 15,000 retweets, with scores of her 14.4 million followers expressing that they shared the same stance on the issue.

“I’m not sure what is worse the portrayal of Serena or whitewashing Osaka. This is disgusting,” one person said.

Another wrote: ‘How did a mainstream outlet publish something so offensive?’

But not everyone agreed with Rowling. Some people argued that the image was accurate because of the behaviour Williams – who was fined $17,000 for three separate violations during the US Open final – exhibited. She called Ramos a “liar” and a “thief” and claimed that she was treated differently than male tennis players.

One commenter said Williams didn’t deserve all the media attention, writing: “This is ridiculous. This judge wouldn’t take her bad behaviour and she turned it into a female rights issue. The poor women who won couldn’t enjoy a monumental victory because Serena hijacked her moment. Worked her entire life for that moment and Serena made it her own."

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