Herald Sun defends racist Serena Williams cartoon

Rex Christensen
September 14, 2018

Knight posted the cartoon on his Twitter account Monday, but has since disabled it after attracting tens of thousands of comments, majority critical.

But others, including Herald Sun editor Damon Johnstone, said the cartoon simply highlighted Williams' poor behaviour.

"I felt Mark Knight's cartoon was too reminiscent of images drawn from the 1920s and '30s". Maybe there's a different understanding of cartooning in Australia to America ...

Columnist at The Root, Michael Harriot published a scathing op-ed. In the background of the original, a blond opponent representing Naomi Osaka faces a chair umpire who pleads: "Can you just let her win?". I think that's what's resonates with people so much about Serena's journey, and explains the hysterical reaction against her. I don't believe it's a good idea to apply a standard of, "If men can get away with it, women should be able to, too". "Which is racist and sexist".

Mark Knight, who drew the picture, was forced to deny his image was racist and shut down his Twitter account amid the growing clamour.

"I drew her as this powerful figure, which she is, she's strongly built". In the cartoon you can see his depiction of Serena stomping on a tennis racket while a pacifier lies on the ground next to her.

In Britain, where fiercely competitive tabloids often trade in sensationalism, Rupert Murdoch-owned newspapers have been accused of sexism, racism and xenophobia over the years. "It's getting harder to be a cartoonist in this insane anxious world - in this fragile angry humourless environment where leniency and understanding are in unsafe decline, and where psychic infections spread chaotically on social media with awful consequences".

"It rightly mocks poor behaviour by a tennis legend", Johnson tweeted. We're equal opportunity piss-takers.

"It's been a huge response", said Today show host Georgie Gardner. "I have a daughter and I stand for what is right and I have never cheated". He's had death threats.

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"Now you have the whole world, 80 million people piling on you". Which is precisely what that cartoon does.

"What I'm interested to know is have we heard from Serena Williams herself as to whether she's offended by it?"

The Project host Waleed Aly attempted to explain why Knight was copping such backlash.

Johnston also took to Twitter to release the cover of publication's Wednesday front page.

Rapper Nicki Minaj, comedian Kathy Griffin and basketballer Ben Simmons were also critical of the cartoon.

And the US-based National Association of Black Journalists said the cartoon was "repugnant on many levels".

It's entirely possible to be critical of Serena Williams' outburst and hold her accountable for her behavior without debasing her and crossing a line that many find offensive.

It was joined by several other cartoons from Mark Knight, including Donald Trump, Kim Jong Un and Australian prime minister Scott Morrison.

Mr Mark Knight's caricature, in Melbourne's Herald Sun on Monday, shows a fat-lipped Williams throwing a tantrum at the US Open.

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