Knight’s cartoon, which appeared in the Herald Sun, showed Williams as an overweight baby stomping on her tennis racket – a reference to the US player’s outburst at the umpire in her defeat to Naomi Osaka in the US Open final.
Knight faced a barrage of abuse over the image, reportedly including death threats, with many attacking the cartoon as “racist.”
The Herald Sun came out fighting with the front cover of its Wednesday edition, showing the image of Williams alongside others by Knight poking fun at prominent figures, with labels one each mockingly explaining why they would be deemed politically incorrect, alongside the headline: “WELCOME TO PC WORLD.”
In defending his depiction of Williams, Knight said he was merely portraying the tennis star’s behavior, and that it had no racist or sexist undertones.
"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 behavior on the court," he said, ABC reported.
"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,” he added.
While he won widespread support on social media, many others said the image clearly drew on racist stereotypes.
Williams was fined $17,000 for violations in Saturday’s defeat to Osaka, which included calling umpire Carlos Ramos a "liar" and "thief."
The tennis star accused the umpire of sexist treatment in issuing the violations, claiming that he would not have done the same to a male player.