Australian paper defends Serena Williams cartoon despite outrage

Brenda Watkins
September 13, 2018

Australian cartoonist Mark Knight's caricature of Serena Williams and her US Open final night against Naomi Osaka has caused massive outrage with the cartoon being labelled as "racist and sexist".

The Herald Sun, owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, first published the caricature of Williams with exaggerated lips, stomping on her tennis racket on Monday.

If you missed all that, we covered the cartoon, as well as Martina Navratilova's reaction to Serena's behaviour, yesterday.

Despite evidence to the contrary, a mob of Twitter users would go after Knight declaring him and his cartoon racist.

Knight reportedly has disabled his Twitter account after his post of the cartoon attracted tens of thousands of comments, mostly critical.

In the cartoon, Williams is jumping up and down as the umpire asks Osaka, "Can you just let her win?".

Serena Williams's shocking U.S. Open loss to Naomi Osaka has set off a storm of debate about professionalism and double standards in the sport.

Leading the criticism, Rowling said it had reduced "one of the greatest sportswomen alive to racist and sexist tropes".

Damon Johnston, Herald Sun editor, echoed the cartoonist's in the paper's official statement on Tuesday.

"I'm genuinely embarrassed for you", Julie Stoddart said in a tweet, while Ken McAlpine tweeted: "Poor little newspaper needs a hug".

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Under the headline "Welcome to PC world", the paper said: "If the self-appointed censors of Mark Knight get their way on his Serena Williams cartoon, our new politically correct life will be very boring indeed".

Prior to disabling his account, his tweet of the cartoon had attracted more than 22,000 comments, a lot of them critical.

After the match, Williams would declare, "I'm here fighting for women's rights and for women's equality and for all kinds of stuff".

In early August, for a cartoon about train-station safety in the Australian state of Victoria, Knight also faced ire for how he drew faceless black figures fighting in the background.

Still, Knight has come under withering criticism over the cartoon with many calling the thick-lipped facial features a "mammy character" and "racist".

Freelance journalist Funmi Olutoye told HuffPost UK she thought the cartoon played into negative portrayals of the 14-times Wimbledon champion in the media.

"I drew her as she is".

Whether it is was intended or not, Knight's cartoon has been widely condemned overseas with many arguing it reinforces a growing worldwide perception that Australia is a country of racists, with one notable exception. Knight said it was a cartoon about poor behaviour.

"I think these days, I don't think you can, it's called punching down", he said.

Knight was criticised in some quarters for being "racist and sexist".

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