Husband of Serena Williams Responds to Controversial Cartoon

September 14, 2018 Updated: September 16, 2018

A cartoon by an Australian artist depicting tennis star Serena Williams during the 2018 U.S. Open final has stirred debate among fans and critics.

Most recently, Alexis Ohanian, the founder of Reddit who is also husband to Williams, added his two cents to the controversy, describing the cartoon as “blatantly racist and misogynistic.”

Williams put on a spectacular display of emotional fireworks during the match she lost to Naomi Osaka of Japan, berating the umpire and breaking her racket in frustration.

Veteran cartoonist for The Herald Sun, Mark Knight, drew a picture of Williams throwing a tantrum and stomping on her tennis racket, with a pacifier, or “dummy,” on the ground next to her, likely referring to the Australian slang term for a childish outburst, to “spit the dummy.”

The cartoon exploded throughout the media and online.

Knight responded to a barrage of similar comments on his cartoon, saying it’s not related to race or gender.

The Herald Sun, also defended Knight in an article published online, calling him “Australia’s finest cartoonist.” The paper also dedicated a full front page to the issue, prominently displaying the cartoon.

Knight has suspended his Twitter account amidst the controversy, saying that while there were more positive comments than negative, he wanted to protect his family and friends from abuse, The Herald Sun reported.

“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,” he said. “The cartoon about Serena is about her poor behavior on the day, not about race. The world has just gone crazy.”

Williams, who was ranked 17th in the world, lost to 20th ranked Osaka, 6-2, 6-4, on Sept. 8. Williams is now ranked 16th, while Osaka is ranked 7th.

Williams got a code violation warning for receiving hand signals from her coach during the game. She then argued with the umpire and smashed her racket, for which she lost a point. She continued to vent, calling the umpire a “liar,” for which she lost a game. She then called him a “thief.”

Her coach later admitted to coaching her from the stands, which breaks the rules.

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) announced on Sept. 9 that Williams must pay a fine of $17,000: $10,000 for verbally abusing the umpire, $4,000 for receiving a warning about coaching; and $3,000 for smashing her racket on the court.

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