- Serena Williams wears custom-made French Open outfit after catsuit ban
- Shape Created with Sketch. Every Serena Williams outfit from French Open through the years
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- 1/16 2019
- Serena Williams debuts zebra-striped outfit in bold fashion statement at French Open
- What we learned: Williams’ first RG outing
- Serena Williams rocks bold look at French Open after catsuit ban
- Serena Williams, with or without a baby, has always been a ‘real woman’
- Australian cartoonist criticized over ‘racist’ Serena Williams sketch
Serena Williams wears custom-made French Open outfit after catsuit ban
Serena Williams has raised the sartorial stakes at this year’s French Open, wearing a custom-made Nike outfit for her opening match of the tournament a year after being banned from wearing a catsuit.
The tennis player’s new ensemble was designed by Virgil Abloh, founder of fashion label Off-White and artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection.
Williams gave her fans a first glimpse of the black-and-white outfit in pictures shared on Twitter and Instagram on Saturday, before stepping out onto the clay court in another version of the design two days later.
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The ensemble features a black and white crop top, skort and netted midriff.
It also comes with a cape emblazoned with the words “Mother, Champion, Queen, Goddess” written in French, although the tennis player didn’t wear the cape during the match.
Shape Created with Sketch. Every Serena Williams outfit from French Open through the years
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This isn’t the first time the 23-time Grand Slam winner has made a bold fashion statement at the French Open.
At last year’s competition, Williams wore a black catsuit designed by Nike, which she said made her feel like a “warrior princess”.
Serena Williams at French Open 2019 in outfit designed by Virgil Abloh for Nike (Getty Images)
However, three months later French Open president Bernard Giudicelli announced a stricter dress code at the tournament, saying that Williams and other participants of the competition would not be allowed to wear outfits of a similar ilk in future in order “to respect the game and the place” with their choice of attire.
“It’s a bit late because the collections are already designed but we are going to nonetheless ask the manufacturers to let us know what is coming,” he told Tennis Magazine, referring to designs made by sports brands for tennis players at the French Open.
“I believe we have sometimes gone too far. Serena’s outfit this year, for example, would no longer be accepted.”
Williams’s compression catsuit had been designed to help prevent blood clots, something she had struggled with following the birth of her daughter nine months prior.
When asked at a press conference for her views on the catsuit ban, Williams responded: “When it comes to fashion, you don’t want to be a repeat offender.”
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The tennis star’s latest sporting ensemble has been praised by scores of her fans.
“Design by a king, wearing by a queen #blackexcellence,” one person commented on Instagram.
“They tried to say ‘no catsuit’, so I’m gonna give you COMPLETE GLAMOUR!!!! Yes Queen!!!!!” another added.
Someone else remarked that Williams was “bringing more fire and style to tennis”.
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This isn’t the first time Williams and Abloh have collaborated together.
In August last year, following the announcement of the catsuit ban, Williams appeared at the US Open wearing a custom-designed tutu dress by Abloh.
The athlete completed the look with compression fishnet tights and a pair of silver NikeCourt Flare sneakers.
For most of the history of women’s tennis, the “dress” — once upon a time a long skirt, now more of a wisp of an idea — has symbolized the feminine side of the game in its most retrograde sense, and been used as a means of gender stereotype, self-expression, and eyeball-attracting marketing. It has flirted with the tropes of fashion-as-decoration, and fashion as an extension of a personal brand, but only within well-behaved bounds.
Finally, however, in the hands of Serena Williams, it has become a political tool: an unabashed statement of female empowerment and independence not just for herself, but for all. It has been happening slowly over the last year, but it crystallized this week with the French Open, which began on Sunday.
That’s where Ms. Williams unveiled her latest Nike outfit — or Nike x Off White outfit (designed by Virgil Abloh, the multi-hyphenate founder of Off-White as well as the artistic director of Louis Vuitton men’s wear). Which was a black-and-white striped crop top, tennis skirt, trapeze-back jacket that flew out like a cape in the wind, and maxi skirt (for photos), all emblazoned with the French words for “Mother, Champion, Queen, Goddess.”
Serena Williams debuts zebra-striped outfit in bold fashion statement at French Open
One year after her French Open catsuit stirred up controversy, Serena Williams was back at Roland Garros on Monday making another bold fashion statement.
Williams was dressed in a zebra-striped outfit designed by Nike for her first-round match against Russian Vitalia Diatchenko in Paris. The black-and-white athletic dress also featured a warm-up cape with the words, “mother, champion, queen, goddess” emblazoned on it in French — as a nod to her hosts.
Williams, in quest of her 24th Grand Slam of her career, started off Monday’s match shaky before coming back for a three-set win. She lost the first set to Diatchenko 6-2 before claiming the second set 6-1 and hitting her stride in the final set 6-0.
Williams posted on Twitter a preview of her French Open-designed look on Sunday. Last year her catsuit outfit drew controversy when French Tennis Federation president Bernard Giudicelli suggested Williams’ outfit was disrespecting the game.
The 37-year-old Williams entered the match in questionable health. She withdrew from the Italian Open earlier this month due to pain in her left knee. Ranked No. 10 in the world, Williams reached two Grand Slam finals last year at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in her first year back in the sport since the birth of her daughter. Her last Grand Slam win came in 2017’s Australian Open before her maternity leave.
What we learned: Williams’ first RG outing
Even the greats get jittery
The aura is unmistakable, but that’s not to suggest Williams is immune to nerves in a first-round outing. With scant match-play coming in, the rust was to be expected.
“It was weird. You know, I have been dealing with a lot, and then I just got nervous out there and I stopped moving my feet,” Williams said of her slow start.
“ was like concrete blocks on my feet. I was, like, ‘You gotta do something’. But compared to other matches, I’m always a little nervous in Grand Slams, especially in the first round.”
Champion, queen, goddess, mother
The Queen Bee could easily have opted for the apiology-inspired print others wearing Nike were sporting this Roland-Garros. She instead dazzled in a black-and-white striped two-piece ensemble designed by Virgil Abloh.
Her warm-up jacket was emblazoned with the words “champion”, “queen”, “goddess” and “mother” in French. Whatever you make of Williams’ on-court fashion choices, the American great never fails to make a statement.
Serena has arrived.#RG19 pic.twitter.com/fGLbtDl58S
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) May 27, 2019
“Those are things that mean a lot to me and reminders for me and for everyone that wants to wear it,” Williams said. “Just remind everyone that they can be champions and are queens.”
In it to win it
The pressure of holding a win-or-nothing attitude when so close to equalling Margaret Court’s all-time Grand Slam record is only compounded with each major that passes. However, the 37-year-old freely admits she wouldn’t still be out there if she didn’t love her trade.
“I mean, there is only one way for me to enjoy it here,” Williams said. “I don’t enjoy places when I don’t win, so that’s why I like playing in all four Grand Slams.”
Now there’s a statement few can make.
PARIS, France — Three-time Roland Garros champion Serena Williams was full of praise for her fellow American Sofia Kenin after she was upset in the third round of Roland Garros on Saturday, and added she might look into wild cards into Wimbledon warm-up tournaments as she tries to get back into optimal match fitness.
“I think she played really well,” Williams, who hoisted the trophy in Paris in 2002, 2013, and 2015, stated. “I feel like she, in that first set in particular, she hit pretty much inches from the line, and I haven’t played anyone like that in a long time. So, yeah, she actually played really well.”
The long-time World No.1 was spurred on by crowd support throughout the match, although Williams said that she “felt like there was a lot of people out there rooting for , though. So I feel like it was — I think there was a ton of people rooting for both of us. I don’t feel like it was completely one-sided.”
“I think at the end of the day I have to just be true to myself, and I have to be me,” Williams stated. “People cheer for what they now know as opposed to what they don’t know.”
Williams and Paris have rapidly become mutual favorites over the last few years. “I am glad I came,” said Williams. “You know, I love the city, and I love the tournament. I really wanted to be here. So I’m glad I came, at the end of the day. It’s just been a really grueling season for me.”
Picture Perfect 📷
With plenty of sun, Serena Williams takes on fellow American Sofia Kenin for the final match of the day on Chatrier.#RG19 pic.twitter.com/ufVnI8fMHb
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 1, 2019
Regarding that grueling season, Williams is still fighting to work back to top fitness after an ailment-plagued 2019, where she had to pull out prior to matches at both Miami and Rome due to a persistent knee injury.
“I’m just pretty far away , but the optimistic part is I haven’t been able to be on the court as much as I would have,” Williams stated. “That’s okay. At least I can start trying to put the time in now.”
Williams said she hopes to get back to top physical form in the month between her loss in Paris and the start of Wimbledon on July 1st. “I’m still working on it and working on getting there. So I think it will be enough time. We’ll see, but I definitely hope so.”
“I feel like I have had some great runs last year, and, you know, I’m hoping to still build on that this year, and, you know, keep it going,” the American continued.
“I’m definitely feeling short on matches, and just getting in the swing of things,” Williams added. “I don’t really like playing out points when I practice. So I have some time on my hands, so maybe I’ll jump in and get a wildcard on one of these grass court events and see what happens.”
Nevertheless, Williams enjoyed the adrenaline rush of the match on Saturday, which she “definitely found” during the clash. But, in the end, “I just think that the player I played today, she just played literally unbelievable,” Williams admitted. “She really went out there today and did great.”
In a surprise upset, Serena Williams lost to fellow American Sofia Kenin in the third round of the French Open on Saturday, making this her earliest loss at a major tournament in five years. But that didn’t stop Serena from addressing her followers on Instagram with some uplifting words. On Sunday, she posted a motivational message of perseverance that resonated with fans around the world.
“Yesterday was not my day,” Williams, 37, captioned the photo of herself raising her arms and racket over her head, a look of frustration on her face. “But it’s about getting up time and time again after you fall. Here’s to a multitude of tomorrows.”
Followers and celebrity friends quickly responded with words of support for the 23-time Grand Slam winner.
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Tom Brady wrote, “You got that right,” adding a goat emoji, symbolizing the title, Greatest of All Time, (which has been bestowed upon him in football).
“Yes ma’am,” responded Eva Longoria, along with three clapping hands emojis.
The Russian-born Kenin, 20, who moved to the US when she was a baby, outplayed Williams throughout the match, shocking fans and even herself with her 6-2, 7-5 victory. “Serena is such a tough player. I’m still trying to process what just happened,” she said after the match. “She’s a true champion and an inspiration.”
Serena Williams and Sofia Kenin shake hands at the end of their women’s singles third round match on day seven of The Roland Garros 2019 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 1, 2019.Philippe Lopez / AFP – Getty Images
Williams also had positive words about the 35th-ranked Kenin who played her heart out in yesterday’s match. “She played really well,” Williams said. “I feel like she, in that first set in particular, hit pretty much inches from the line. I hadn’t played anyone like that in a long time…”
After suffering from multiple injuries over the past year and withdrawing from the Miami Open, Williams came to Paris in a positive mindset, wearing an outfit designed by Virgil Abloh and Nike with the words “Champion,” “Queen,” “Goddess,” and “Mother” in French on it.
“Let the Roland Garros begin,” Williams captioned the photo of herself posing with Abloh, the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection and CEO of the Milan-based label Off-White.
This wasn’t Williams’ first shocking defeat in recent years. Naomi Osaka beat Williams at the 2018 US Open. Osaka was also defeated in the third round of the French Open on Saturday.
In addition to dealing with illness and injury, Williams sat out four Grand Slams in the 2017-2018 while she took time off to have and care for her daughter Alexis Olympia.
“I’m glad I came,” said Williams of this year’s French Open. “But it’s just been a really grueling season for me.”
Up-and-comer Kenin moves on to the next round where she will face Australian player Ashleigh Barty.
Serena Williams rocks bold look at French Open after catsuit ban
May 28, 201900:26
Serena Williams, with or without a baby, has always been a ‘real woman’
The Vanity Fair cover was #shotsfired.
I remember gasping upon seeing it. Serena Williams’ pregnant belly had popped, and there it was, along with the rest of her — glamorous, wind-swept, nearly nude, elegantly trolling us with a glance back to August 1991.
First thought: This b—- betta WERK.
Second thought: Eat your heart out, Demi.
On Friday, the 35-year-old Williams gave birth to her first child, a girl, at St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. She entered the hospital Wednesday, claimed an entire floor of the maternity wing and was induced Thursday evening. She and her fiancé, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, 34, have been engaged since December 2016. The birth of the Williams-Ohanian baby marks the culmination of several months of famous-mommy-to-be hullabaloo for America’s greatest living athlete. Said hullabaloo allowed us to re-engage with all our worries, anxieties, hostilities, unsolicited opinions and concern-trolling about Williams and that magnificent body of hers that will never allow her the luxury of being a shrinking violet, even if she wanted to be one.
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When you and your crew go so far back to the 50’s. Even then they had your back. @evalongoria @ciara @lala @kellyrowland @angiebeyince #shakerattleandroll2017 #babyO
Fortunately for us, Williams was more than happy to publicly exult in her knocked-up condition, gifting audiences with glossy, high-profile photo shoots in Vanity Fair, Vogue and Stellar, the magazine of Australia’s Daily Telegraph. There was the #squadgoals baby shower that doubled as a sock hop, an appearance with Ohanian at the Metropolitan Museum Gala in a silky, jewel-toned gown that breezily skimmed her swollen belly, and plenty of Instagram pics showing off her tummy’s transformation. This was how Williams, tennis player extraordinaire, fashion maven and certified friend of Anna Wintour, was going to publicly perform her pregnancy: with aplomb. In the course of an unexpected pregnancy, Williams stumbled upon an opportunity not just to express herself but to once again reassert and broaden definitions of beauty.
It was refreshing to see her so nakedly happy and maybe, just maybe, enjoying the opportunity to tweak some of her rivals and twirl on her haters. After all, Williams just so happened to “accidentally” share the news of her pregnancy with a photo on SnapChat the same day as her rival Maria Sharapova’s birthday.
For as long as she’s been in the public eye, Williams has been asserting her femininity because for just as long, it’s been under attack. Williams is well-aware of her public image and the critiques of it. And while she’s come to a level of comfort and acceptance with herself, she’s also bristled for years over the conversation about her physique and her athleticism. So for her, a pregnancy was more than a chance to welcome a new life into the world. It was an opportunity to assert, once and for all, something that should be obvious: that, yes, Serena Williams is indeed a “real woman.”
It doesn’t take a gender studies major to understand that the standard of femininity that exists for American women is centered on whiteness. And not just any kind of whiteness, but a delicate, blond, thin, toned-but-never-overly-muscular, WASP-y whiteness. Lady lumps are welcome, as long as they don’t protrude so much as to give the impression of cheapness or signal a tawdry lack of control over one’s body or eating habits.
It’s a rigid standard that, despite our recognition of it, has continued to hold firm. And so, even though Williams is in a class of her own as a tennis player, Sharapova nets more in endorsement deals because she’s more “marketable.” This despite her 15-month suspension for using a banned drug.
Which brings us to Vanity Fair.
Courtesy of Vanity Fair
When Moore appeared on its cover in 1991, nude, pregnant and head turned just so as she stared into the middle distance, it was a pivotal moment in the way our society thought about women’s bodies and pregnancy. Being visibly pregnant was — well, it was a really obvious indication that a woman had had sex. For decades, pregnant celebrities were expected to make themselves scarce as they carried, and here was Moore, flaunting her fecundity all over the newsstands. It marked the moment that pregnancy, at least for celebrities, could be a publicity asset. It could be sexy and daring and provocative, and you didn’t have to cover it up in a series of unflattering muumuus a la Princess Diana — if you were white.
In 2013, Olympic beach volleyball gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings posed for ESPN The Magazine’s annual Body Issue.” She did two shoots, both nude: one while pregnant and one postpartum, cradling her sleeping baby against her body. Moore basically opened the door for images like those to exist and not be a big deal.
But there was a double standard for black celebrities. Twenty-six years after Moore’s momentous cover, Williams and Vanity Fair took a shot at that double standard by overtly referencing it. Williams’ pose wasn’t an exact replica — it was a little more defiant. The hand bra, as the pose came to be known, was the same, but Williams had her free hand cocked on her hip. In contrast to Moore’s relatively short locks, Williams was Lady Godiva, staring head-on into a wind machine out of frame. She’s completely in profile, rather than facing the camera. And she’s not quite naked. Instead, she’s wearing a belly chain over a thong matched to her complexion.
But more than anything, like Moore, she was hugely, roundly, unmistakably pregnant. For Williams, pregnancy provided a way to announce and assert her femininity, something she’s been doing over the whole of her career.
In an August interview with Stellar, Williams told the magazine, “I am about to be a real woman now, you know? It’s going to be something incredibly impressive to go through.”
It seemed like an innocuous quote, especially if you were familiar with the attacks that Williams has endured for decades about her looks. But some didn’t see it that way, and slammed Williams. “Didn’t know I had to have a baby to be a “real woman”..thanks for letting me know,” sniped one Twitter user.
Williams shares an unfortunate sisterhood with Michelle Obama. They’re both high-profile black women who have been repeatedly subjected to racist, sexist insults suggesting that they’re not real women, or that they’re not even human. Both have withstood barbs about their bodies simply because they don’t conform to WASP beauty standards.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, The Washington Post ran an interview with a Donald Trump supporter in western Pennsylvania who believed Obama “could be a man.” It’s a rumor that’s followed Obama since she entered the national spotlight, and it continues even though she’s returned to her role as a private citizen.
Opponents insulted Obama by calling her “Moochelle” and insisting she was overweight. A West Virginia official was suspended from her job after posting on Facebook, “It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House. I’m tired of seeing an ape in heels.”
Because of her muscular physique, her aggressive style of play and her blackness, Williams has weathered similar accusations. Williams couldn’t even escape “misogynoiristic” comments from professional journalists. In 2009, Jason Whitlock, then a columnist for Fox Sports, called Williams lazy and fat, compared her to a horse and accused her of “grazing at her stall between matches.”
When Williams won Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year designation in 2015, she had to face the fact that a number of sports fans were angry that she took the honor over American Pharoah, a horse — which, being, you know, equine, was not a sportsperson.
Williams accepted the honor with a bold, sexy photo shoot for the SI cover. She donned a black lace leotard and patent leather stiletto heels and posed on a throne, one leg draped suggestively over the arm of the chair. She confronts the viewer head-on, staring straight into the camera. If there was a thought bubble above her head, I swear it’d say, “You come at the Queen, you best not miss.”
We don’t have to guess about her thoughts on the Vanity Fair cover. “Being black and being on the cover was really important to me,” Williams told Vogue in August. “The success of one woman should be the inspiration to another, and I’m always trying to inspire and motivate the black girls out there. I’m not a model. I’m not the girl next door. But I’m not hiding. Actually, I look like a lot of women out there. The American woman is many women, and I think it’s important to speak to American women at a time when they need encouragement.”
Her father, Richard, anticipated the animus that Serena and her sister Venus would face as they ascended to tennis’s biggest professional spotlights. He famously trained his daughters on the public courts of Compton, California, and paid people to shout racist, sexist invectives at them to make them as tough mentally as they were physically. It’s become part of the lore of the rise of the Williams sisters.
When she yells at game officials, it serves as confirmation for those who see Williams as unrefined. When she first expressed a serious interest in fashion and developed a line called Aneres, many a male sportswriter dismissed it as frivolous and unimportant because it wasn’t related to tennis. When she decided to go to beauty school to become a certified nail technician (she even once gave Oprah Winfrey a pedicure) it was easy to wave off the move as a lark.
Williams has managed to do what she wants, regardless of public reaction, whether it’s sporting a black catsuit that leaves little to the imagination or launching a fashion line for HSN and presenting it at New York Fashion Week. When she joined Beyoncé in the “Sorry” video for Lemonade, she was the epitome of “thick thighs save lives.”
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But that doesn’t mean the insults haven’t gotten to her. Because there’s no way to train yourself to tune out hate, not when it’s so loud and so personal.
“I don’t touch a weight, because I’m already super fit and super cut, and if I even look at weights, I get bigger,” Williams told The New York Times in 2015. “For years I’ve only done Thera-Bands and things like that, because that’s kind of how I felt. But then I realized that you really have to learn to accept who you are and love who you are. I’m really happy with my body type, and I’m really proud of it. Obviously it works out for me. I talk about it all the time, how it was uncomfortable for someone like me to be in my body.”
Just last year, Williams told The Guardian that she’s criticized for being “too muscly and too masculine, and then a week later too racy and too sexy.”
It’s easy to understand how pregnancy and motherhood could hold an outsize importance for Williams in her journey to loving, accepting and understanding herself as a woman in the body that she lives in. And it’s ironic that the life event that led her to exhibit such control over her public image is one that also requires ceding a bit of it, or sometimes a lot, to a tiny human gestating in utero.
If giving birth gives her a measure of comfort she wouldn’t otherwise have, no one should begrudge her. But Serena Williams, baby or no, has always been a real woman.
Soraya Nadia McDonald is the culture critic for The Undefeated. She writes about pop culture, fashion, the arts, and literature. She’s based in Brooklyn.
Taylor Townsend has a forehand like a clap of thunder and a net game as delicate and dazzling as anyone in women’s tennis. And, as the 18-year-old American showed in holding off a spirited fightback to shock the No 20 seed Alize Cornet at the French Open last week, she has plenty of guts and talent too. But – and there is no delicate way to put this – there was another reason her victory was given such prominence: she also appeared to be carrying a few extra pounds.
People quickly took entrenched positions: those whose antennae detected that Townsend was a victim of body shaming and sexism; dullards who lobbed vicious comments on tennis forums; and others who pointed out that in September 2012 the US Tennis Association cut off her funding until she got into better shape and, you know, perhaps she did need to get fitter.
We have been here before. Serena Williams, the world’s No 1, once pointed out to detractors: “I could lose 20lb and I’m still going to have these knockers and I’m going to have this ass, and that’s just the way it is”, although later in her career she dropped to a size 10 by doing Pilates and training up to four hours a day. As she said: “I wanted to get really fit. I wanted to lose some weight.” And then there was Lindsay Davenport, who was 6ft 2in and 86kg (13½st) when she blasted on to the WTA Tour as a teenager. People called her fat, which hurt her more than most defeats. But after she lost 13.6kg (30lb) in two years she became world No 1. As she said: “It made such a big difference in my game.”
Townsend is not the only young player to have her weight scrutinised either. Laura Robson, Britain’s top player, was also told recently that “she needs to get a lot fitter” by TV commentator Annabel Croft. But anyone who dares to venture into this arena risks being caught up in the issues surrounding weight, fitness and gender politics.
It’s a delicate area, but anyone playing elite sport knows the unarguable truth – that the stronger and fitter you are, the closer to your maximum potential you will be.
It is also worth noting, as David Epstein points out in his book The Sports Gene, that Steffi Graf – probably the greatest female tennis player of all – was so fit she would train for endurance alongside Germany’s Olympic track runners and was suspected to be good enough to be European 1,500m champion. It doesn’t hurt to match tennis talent with supreme fitness – no matter how good you are.
Australian cartoonist criticized over ‘racist’ Serena Williams sketch
Australian cartoonist Mark Knight ignited outrage with his depiction of tennis star Serena Williams at the U.S. Open published in Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper on Monday.
Knight’s caricature shows a beefy and fat-lipped Williams jumping up and down on her broken racquet, as the chair umpire tells Naomi Osaka in the background: “Can you just let her win?”.
On Sunday, Osaka claimed her maiden grand slam title in truly extraordinary circumstances at the US Open, as a furious Serena Williams became embroiled in a stunning row with umpire Carlos Ramos.
Six-time US Open winner Williams, was initially disgusted after receiving a coaching violation from the umpire during the first set.
Williams was later handed a point penalty for smashing her racquet in set two and was then docked a game after continuing her protests at Ramos, seemingly calling the official a “thief”.
“Racist and sexist tropes”
Several have labelled Knight’s cartoon as “racist and sexist,” with observers drawing attention to the depiction of Williams’ facial features and pose.
Others have pointed out that Osaka was portrayed as petit woman with jet blonde straight hair, while in reality she has dark curly hair with blonde streaks and is taller than Williams.
Among the detractors is Harry Potter author JK Rowling, who claimed that Knight’s depiction of Serena Williams is racist and sexist.
“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 author tweeted on Monday.
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. https://t.co/YOxVMuTXEC
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) 10 September 2018
Rapper Nicki Minaj, comedian Kathy Griffin and basketballer Ben Simmons were also critical of the cartoon.
Knight: “It’s all about behavior”
The cartoonist responded to criticism by pointing out that it was only about Williams’ behavior on the court and said those pointing out it was racist and sexist were misinterpreting the whole thing.
“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,” he said.
“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.
“So, 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.”
Michael Miller, executive chairman of News Corp Australasia, which publishes the Melbourne’s Herald Sun, defended Knight.
“It had nothing to do with gender or race.”
Herald Sun backs Mark Knight’s cartoon on Serena Williams: https://t.co/i1NBGO8xJw pic.twitter.com/BTFONVWHh8
— Herald Sun (@theheraldsun) 10 September 2018
“Criticism of Mark Knight’s Serena Williams cartoon shows the world has gone too PC & misunderstands the role of news media cartoons and satire,” he said.