It has drawn international condemnation and fervent commentary from around Australia that cartoon by Mark Knight of the Herald Sun of Serena Williams, arguably the greatest women’s player of her generation. The drawing in question depicts Williams amidst a meltdown during her Grand Slam title loss against Naomi Osaka at the US Open last weekend. She is jumping in the air about to stamp hard on the ground, her hair is flying and a broken racket lays crumpled on the ground.
Criticism‘s been slung from a variety of unusual, worldly sources. J.K. Rowling (the author of the Harry Potter books), Nicky Minaj (international pop idol) and Ben Simmons (upcoming American basketball star) have all condemned the cartoon for their own reasons. Other commentators and Serena herself have described it as sexism, and there has been talk of a racist vibe to the drawing.
Satire in media is an odd subsection. The purpose of satire is to acknowledge and highlight a certain point. It is supposed to be provocative and draw the attention of the consumer so they are enticed towards the content of the article. Offending the subject is not desirable but unfortunately impossible to ignore in some situations.
The reaction of William’s and many loud international figures is that this cartoon is not just offensive but drawing on sexist and racist sentiments, therefore should be condemned. It is each to their own to decide the drawings appropriateness but looking closer at the facts can help form a more rounded opinion.
Williams committed three on court violations. Her coach admitted to coaching her mid-match, therefore being handed punishment from the chair referee. The American tennis player accrued a second violation when she threw her racket after double faulting to lose a point. No questions there. She went on to call the on-court referee a ‘thief’. That is unacceptable behaviour and abuse. Third violation is given.
Serena Williams would later argue that male tennis players were treated differently when it came to verbal abuse, but this is not true. Historically violations for abuse occur just as regularly for the men as it does for the women. This particular umpire, Carlos Ramos, is infamous for docking a point off Novak Djokovic in a grand slam match years ago for time wasting and verbal abuse.
In this particular incident from the weekend and from the cartoon on the front page of the Herald Sun, some may see sexism and some may even see racism. Others may see another brat tennis player who reacted poorly after being handed down a code violation and throwing her racket wildly on court.
To hear the wash up from Sean on the Breaky Show please jump on to the Catch Up link below.