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Women's Italia Tennis Masters

Source: Mike Hewitt / Getty

In response to Serena Williams standing up against sexism at the U.S. Open, a racist cartoon portrayed one of the world’s best-conditioned athletes as a fat, angry mammy character more suited to Gone With The Wind than the top tier of international tennis.

To underscore the point, cartoonist Mark Knight of the Herald Sun in Australia whitewashed Williams’ U.S. Open opponent, Naomi Osaka, also a woman of color, portraying her as a waif-like figure with blonde hair.

But this is nothing new for Williams. She’s had a personal relationship with prejudice ever since her father Richard Williams pushed Serena and her sister Venus into the lily-white world of tennis. And the fact that it is so familiar territory for Serena is the very reason we must take her seriously when she says that sexism in tennis is real.

The incident in question, when Williams confronted chair umpire Carlos Ramos after Ramos accused Williams of cheating by getting coaching during the match, was one of many flashpoints in her storied career.

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