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Cartoonist denies Serena Williams US Open depiction is racist and sexist

An Australian cartoonist has been accused of depicting Serena Williams in a racist and sexist way after her defeat at the US Open.

Mark Knight depicted the tennis star having a tantrum and smashing her racket on the floor during her match against Naomi Osaka, in a cartoon which appeared in Australian newspaper The Herald Sun.

In the background the umpire is pictured asking Williams' opponent, Naomi Osaka to let her win.

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In response, Mr Knight branded the criticism "crazy", while the newspaper's editor said the drawing had "nothing to do with gender or race" and was simply about a "champion tennis player having a mega tantrum on the world stage".

During Saturday's match, Williams repeatedly lost her temper before Japan's Osaka beat her 6-2 6-4.

The 36-year-old received a warning for coaching, docked a point for smashing a racket, and umpire Carlos Ramos penalised her a game after she called him a liar and a thief.

Following the cartoon's publication, many took to social media to criticise it, claiming it used racist stereotypes.

Harry Potter author JK Rowling, compared the cartoon to past racist caricatures of African-American people, and argued that Osaka had been turned into a "faceless prop".

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Bernice King, the daughter of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, weighed in on the issue calling for the newspaper to "do better".

"Art can be a vehicle to enlighten and eradicate racism, misogyny, etc. This does the opposite. And we can’t afford that in this current social climate. Please do better, @theheraldsun."

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Leading African-American magazine Ebony also took to Twitter to criticise the depiction, tweeting: "Serena Williams Mocked in Racist, Sexist Cartoon After US Open Loss - You're Cancelled!

"Australian cartoonist Mark Knight is justifying his ignorance after being called out for a racist and sexist caricature of tennis superstar Serena Williams."

Others claimed the illustration was sexist, following claims made by Williams during the match.

On Monday the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) backed up the 23-times grand slam winner's claims, while the United States Tennis Association (USTA) also claimed that there are double standards in terms of how umpires treat women and men.

However, this is not the first time the cartoonist has commented on the poor behaviour of tennis players.

Mr Knight shortly tweeted some of his earlier work poking fun at Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios' attitude during the US Open.

In the reply tweet to one of his critics, he said: "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."

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On the Herald Sun website, editor Damon Johnston said: “A champion tennis player had a mega tantrum on the world stage, and Mark’s cartoon depicted that.

“It had nothing to do with gender or race.”

Mr Knight added: "I drew this cartoon Sunday night after seeing the US Open final, and seeing the world’s best tennis player have a tantrum and thought that was interesting.

“It’s been picked up by social media in the US and my phone has just melted down.

“The world has just gone crazy.”

Serena Williams argued with umpire Carlos Ramos during the final. Credit: AP