Aussie cartoonist’s depiction of Serena causes a firestorm.
Aussie cartoonist’s depiction of Serena causes a firestorm. MATTHEW STOCKMAN

Aussie cartoon of Serena causes a firestorm

CARTOONISTS are supposed to push the envelope - and push people's buttons - and this illustration of Serena Williams certainly does both.

Drawn by Herald Sun editorial cartoonist Mark Knight, the picture - which he tweeted out on Monday after Williams' meltdown in the US Open final - has sparked an intense reaction.

The cartoon shows a furious Williams stomping on her racket with a baby's dummy on the court beside her. In the background chair umpire Carlos Ramos is seen asking her opponent Naomi Osaka, "Can you just let her win?".

US sports writer Julie DiCaro objected to the cartoon, writing "Where was this cartoon for all the men who have broken their rackets over the years?".

But her reply drew a swift response from Knight. "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," he wrote. "Don't bring gender into it when it's all about behaviour. I'll accept your apology in writing."

But America's National Association of Black Journalists denounced the cartoon, criticising the illustration as "unnecessarily sambo-like".

"The art of editorial cartooning is a visual dialogue on the issues of the day, yet this cartoon grossly inaccurately depicts two women of colour at the US Open, one of the grandest stages of professional sports," the NABJ said in a statement.

It also drew the attention of author JK Rowling, who tweeted: "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."

The photo had received more than 14,000 likes and 17,000 comments by Tuesday morning.

Williams launched an astonishing verbal attack on chair umpire Ramos as she crashed to a shock 6-2, 6-4 defeat by Japan's Naomi Osaka on Saturday.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion was given three code violations by Ramos, the first for receiving coaching, the second for racket abuse and the third for verbal abuse of the umpire.

The second and third violations earned Williams a point penalty and then a game penalty, giving Osaka a 5-3 second set lead that effectively gifted her the title.

Williams picks up her broken racket. (Photo by Jaime Lawson/Getty Images for USTA)
Williams picks up her broken racket. (Photo by Jaime Lawson/Getty Images for USTA)

Williams had demanded an apology from Ramos during her rant and later called the punishment "sexist", while claiming she was fighting for women's rights because male players got away with similar antics.

The former world number one's defiant stance was backed by WTA Tour chief executive Steve Simon and legendary former female player Billie-Jean King, who questioned the coaching penalty that first sparked Williams' anger.

- with wires