Two days after Serena Williams lost the US Open final, a cartoon was published of her antics in the Australian newspaper, the Herald Sun, created by cartoonist Mark Knight. If you haven’t already seen it, Williams has been portrayed as an angry baby, jumping up and down on her racquet, with her dummy lying on the court beside her.
This perfectly fits with the Australian phrase, “to spit the dummy”. The phrase just means that a person, often an adult, has lost their temper and is acting in a rather childish, petulant way.
In the final match against Naomi Osaka, Williams was given three code violations. I’ve posted a link to the video of the actual incidents below.
The first violation was for coaching. She denied any wrongdoing, however, her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, has openly admitted to coaching.
For Williams, this first violation resulted in a formal warning.
The second breach was for breaking her racquet after she double-faulted. If you watch the video, clearly she was frustrated, but that’s still no excuse to smash your racquet on the floor.
At the Grand Slam level, the second violation results in a point penalty.
Afterwards, Williams spoke with the umpire, Carlos Ramos, and claimed that she “didn’t get coaching” and that she “doesn’t cheat”. She told the umpire that he “owes her an apology”. She went on to say that Ramos “stole a point” from her, and that he’s “a thief, too”.
Consequently, her third code violation was for verbal abuse, and deservedly so. This resulted in a game penalty in accordance with International Tennis Federation rules.
Williams claimed that she was being treated differently because she was a woman. She claimed that male players have done things much worse, but yet didn’t get the same penalties.
I take issue with that claim. Even if she’s 100% correct that male players get away with a lot more, she has no right to use that as an excuse to act like she did.
Ultimately, she was fined a total of $17000, which came out of her $1.85 million prize money. Just for your interest, the umpire was paid $450, which is the daily rate for all USTA umpires.
And now to the cartoon. It shows Williams throwing a tantrum, jumping on her racquet, and spitting the dummy so to speak. Osaka is in the background staying cool and collected being asked by the umpire, “Can you just let her win?”.
There have been claims of racism in the cartoon due to the over-accentuated features of Williams, however, it is a cartoon. I think we can all admit that every character in almost every cartoon has over-accentuated features.
J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, sent out a tweet stating, “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”.
Maybe Mark Knight should draw a cartoon of J.K. Rowling sitting high in a tower of one of her mansions tapping away on Twitter late at night. There should be a list of things to be outraged about, pinned to the wall. Racism and sexism are first on the list and have been crossed off with the cartoon of Serena Williams pinned nearby.
There are only a couple of ways forward for Serena Williams. She can continue on the same path, labelling people as sexist, or racist. Or, she can admit her wrongdoing and come out and apologise.
The cartoon didn’t poke fun at African-Americans. The cartoon didn’t poke fun at women. The cartoon simply made a commentary on the actions of a single tennis player at a single tennis event.
If she just comes out and apologises and admits her wrongdoing, then everything will be good again. This is not a racial problem. This is not a gender problem. This is a Serena William’s problem. Only she can fix this.
2018 US Open Highlights: Serena Williams' dispute overshadows Naomi Osaka's final win | ESPN
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