Australian paper defends 'racist' Serena Williams cartoon

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The Australian newspaper behind a universally admonished, racist cartoon of Serena Williams stubbornly doubled down on its defense of it on Wednesday and even reprinted it on its front page despite a wave of global outrage.

Cartoonist Knight defended his drawing - as did the editor of the newspaper - saying it was nothing to do with race, rather Williams' "poor behaviour" at the match.

The Herald Sun newspaper printed an edited portion of the cartoon - featuring 23-time Grand Slam victor Williams jumping on a broken racket during her dispute with a chair umpire in the U.S. Open final - among caricatures of other famous people Wednesday under the headline "Welcome to PC World".

Her opponent, Japanese and Haitian player Naomi Osaka, was shown as a blonde woman.


"Criticism of Mark Knight's Serena Williams cartoon shows the world has gone too PC & misunderstands the role of news media cartoons and satire", he said.

"The cartoon was basically, I watched the US Open, I saw the world number one tennis player spit the dummy on centre court and I thought 'oh well that's newsworthy, I'll draw a cartoon about that.'", he added.

"A few days beforehand I had actually drawn a cartoon of Australian Nick Kyrgios and his bad behaviour at the US Open, so I'm not targeting (Serena)".

For his part. Knight says of the drawing, "The world's gone insane".


"But those who seek to prosecute their antiracial agenda by identifying racism in the Knight cartoon - where it does not exist - completely miss the point of the drawing".

The backlash against Knight - and Australia more generally - intensified over 24 hours as the image made global headlines - and nowhere more fiercely than in the US. "And I think for Ramos, he was a little defensive at that point, and was fed up as opposed to saying, 'OK, let's get back to business'". Williams called Santos a "thief" for the coaching ruling and in response Santos issued a third code violation, handing the game to Osaka.

"The enlarged facial features and the position of a dummy in the cartoon draws on pernicious stereotypes of African Americans as angry, childlike and in need of restraint by white masters", says Dr Kate Dossett, associate professor of United States history at the University of Leeds.

"I'm upset that people are offended, but I'm not going to take the cartoon down", Knight said, according to the Guardian. "This classic Jim Crow era sexist/racist image does nothing but display the complete disrespect of the superstar and perpetuate the stereotype of an "angry black woman" I am appalled", wrote Jevin Hodge, the vice-chair of the Arizona Democratic Party.


Twitter comments about Pope's illustration appear fall into the two camps - the original Herald Sun cartoon was a racist depiction of Serena Williams, while those who sided with it said it was simply a caricature of a sportsperson having an on-court meltdown. "I drew her as this powerful figure, which she is, she's strongly built". They say they are often forced to watch their tone and words in the workplace in ways that men and other women are not.

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