An Australian illustrator has justified his portrayal of Serena Williams at the US Open after the went viral and he was accused of being a sexist racist.

Mark Knight’s newspaper cartoon portrayed Williams bouncing over a broken racquet beside a baby’s dummy. Commentators said it was racist.

The illustrator denied he is a bigot, saying he only wanted to show the tennis player’s “poor behavior.” Some also said Knight had “whitewashed” Japanese player Naomi Osaka.

Williams started discussion amid her lost to Osaka, whose dad is Haitian and mother Japanese, when she blamed the umpire for sexism and being a “thief.”

Knight’s drawing was released in Australia’s most-read daily paper, the Herald Sun on Monday, and referenced when Williams had to go off on the umpire and he asked Osaka: “Can you just let her win?”

The newspaper’s editor, Damon Johnston, also denied the toon is racist or sexist. “It rightly mocks poor behaviour by a tennis legend… Mark has the full support of everyone,” he said in a tweet.

The Herald Sun editor later tweeted a duplicate of Wednesday’s front page – which reproduced the toon alongside a progression of others, hitting out at “self-appointed sensors of Mark Knight.”

Critics, including creator JK Rowling, contrasted the drawing of Williams with past racist depictions of African-American individuals.