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JK Rowling slams Aussie artist for ‘racist and sexist’ cartoon of Serena Williams

There were plenty of pretty heated opinions regarding Serena Williams’ behaviour during her US Open final, but one particular Australian cartoonist has done a pretty good job of stealing the 23-time grand slam champion’s thunder.

Mark Knight, who works for Melbourne’s Herald Sun, published a cartoon of Williams mid-tantrum as the umpire asks her opponent, Naomi Osaka: “Can you just let her win?”

The cartoon was swiftly condemned by a number of people, including JK Rowling, who wrote on Twitter, “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.”

Rowling was far from being the only person to take offence, with many other people coming forward to condemn Knight’s work, comparing it to racist artwork of past generations.

However, Knights is standing by his work, saying “this whole business that I’m some sort of racist, calling on racial cartoons from the past, it’s just made up. It’s not there.”

“I saw the world number one tennis player have a huge hissy fit and spit the dummy. That’s what the cartoon was about, her poor behaviour on the court,” Knight told the ABC.

“I’m not targeting Serena. I mean, Serena is a champion.

“I drew her as an African-American woman. She’s powerfully built. She wears these outrageous costumes when she plays tennis. She’s interesting to draw. I drew her as she is, as an African-American woman.”

Knight went on to suggest that perhaps “Americans may look at it in a different light”.

“I find on social media that stuff gets shared around, and it’s like a sort of rolling thunder. It’s like a hurricane. It develops intensity way beyond its initial meaning,” he said.

“I think racial tensions in America are, of course, more heightened than here in Australia…

“No racial historical significance should be read into it.”

After US sportswriter Julie DiCaro suggested male tennis players get away with on-court tantrums, the cartoonist defended himself by referring to another recent cartoon which depicted Australian Nick Kyrgios being dragged onto the court.

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Joe was Junior Vice-President at Compu-Global-Hyper-Mega-Net until it was bought out by Bill Gates. He now subedits for Conversant Media and considers it a step up.

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