Newspaper defends ‘racist’ Serena Williams cartoon: ‘The world has just gone crazy’
An Australian newspaper defended its editorial cartoon of Serena Williams a day after it was condemned online for being racist and sexist — and it did so by publishing the image again on the front page, along with several other caricatures.
Wednesday’s edition of the Herald Sun shows depictions of several political figures along with the controversial cartoon of tennis star Williams, which was drawn by cartoonist Mark Knight.
“Welcome to PC world,” reads the full page headline.
“If the self-appointed censors of Mark Knight get their way on his Serena Williams cartoon, our new politically correct life will be very dull indeed,” reads a secondary headline.
The Williams cartoon was published in the wake of the controversy surrounding the U.S. Open women’s final on Saturday.
The cartoon shows the 23-time Grand Slam winner with exaggerated facial features, wearing a tutu while jumping on a broken tennis racket. A pacifier is pictured on the tennis court.
The cartoon was widely condemned on social media by sports figures and celebrities.
“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,” J.K. Rowling, the author of the famous Harry Potter series, tweeted.
Williams lost to Japan’s Naomi Osaka, who is also depicted in the cartoon as a blond, white woman.
“Can you just let her win?” the chair umpire is depicted as asking Osaka.
The newspaper defended the cartoon and the man behind the sketch.
“The Herald Sun’s veteran cartoonist says his portrayal was never about race or gender — rather the sporting superstar’s bad behaviour at the U.S. Open,” the newspaper wrote in an article on its website.
Knight said he drew the cartoon after watching Williams “have a tantrum and thought that was interesting.”
“The cartoon about Serena is about her poor behaviour on the day, not about race. The world has just gone crazy,” Knight was quoted as saying.
Williams was fined $17,000 for three code violations during her loss to Osaka. The tournament referee’s office docked Williams $10,000 for “verbal abuse” of chair umpire Carlos Ramos, $4,000 for being warned for coaching and $3,000 for breaking her racket.
Williams called the umpire a “thief” after being docked a point for smashing her racket. Williams also received a warning for getting coaching during the match. She disputed the ruling saying cheating “is the one thing I’ve never done, ever.”
The newspaper also defended the cartoonist’s work in a separate editorial.
“The world has officially gone mad when a celebrated cartoonist is condemned by the social media hordes for depicting a famous sports star throwing an unedifying tantrum,” reads the editorial. “Take a breath and consider the facts.”
The editorial goes on to list Williams’ faults at the U.S. Open, including the smashing of her racket and verbal exchange with the chair umpire.
“Knight, like almost every cartoonist, mocks the powerful and famous when required; whether it be prime ministers like Malcolm Turnbull or presidents like Donald Trump,” the editorial goes on to say. “Regardless of race or sex, they are lampooned because of their behaviour.”
The paper touched on the skin colour “distinctions between Williams and Osaka, who is of mixed Japanese and Haitian descent,” adding that Osaka “was drawn with a blond ponytail because she has a blond ponytail.”
“To argue the Williams drawing is racist is an attempt to defeat cartooning — and satire — with a politically correct barrage,” reads the editorial. “There is a valid and urgent need to continue the march toward true and real racial and sexual equality in all walks of life.”
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