Australian paper forced to explain “racist and sexist” cartoon of Serena Williams


An Australian newspaper is on the spot over racist allegations after publishing a cartoon on its front page in the Monday publication depicting Serena Williams.

Serena threw a tantrum after losing at the US Open final to 20-year-old Japanese Naomi Osaka and went ahead to brand umpire Carlos Ramos a thief while calling for the referee of the match Brain Earley to come out.

The cartoon showing Williams jumping on a racket with a pacifier on the side has drawn a lot of attention and reaction from different parts of the world with many people defending the 23-time grand Slam winner.

The drawing with exaggerated lips and nose reminiscent of racist depictions of Black people in the US during the Jim Crow era.

Williams’ cartoon alongside those of Australian prime minister Scott Morrison, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump was coupled with a rather more satirical headline “Welcome to PC” while reading “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.”

Defending the publication, Herald Sun editor Damon Johnston said there was nothing wrong with the cartoon since it was only depicting the tantrum Serena threw during the US Open finals match.

“(The cartoon) rightly mocks poor behaviour by a tennis legend. (Mr Knight) has the full support of everyone (at the paper).

“The cartoon had nothing to do with gender or race. A champion tennis player had a mega tantrum on the world stage and the cartoon depicted that,” added Johnston.

The cartoon in which Osaka is depicted a skinny blonde faceless prop in the background has received a lot backlash from notable figure in the world with Rowling saying it has subjected ‘one of the greatest sportswomen alive to racist and sexist tropes.

“To disrespect Serena Williams, a 23 time Grand Slam Champion, in this light is truly disappointing. As an Australian, I am truly disappointed,” posted on Twitter the 2018 NBA rookie of the year.

The cartoonist, Mr. Knight said the reaction from online trolling has affected his family forcing him to even delete his social media accounts while insisting that he did not intend to portray racism in his art work.

“The cartoon was just about Serena on the day having a tantrum. 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).

Serena is a champion.

“I drew her as an African-American woman, she’s powerfully built, she wears these outrageous costumes when she plays tennis-she’s interesting to draw. I drew her as she is. As an African-American woman, so this whole business that I am sort of racist, calling on racial cartoons from the past, it’s just made up, it’s not there,” defended himself.

An editorial piece on the paper on Tuesday went on to defend the cartoonist saying it’s unwise for people to attack Knight for just doing his job.

“(William) simply outplayed and lost her temper in a gigantic and ill-disciplined blow-up. The world has officially gone mad when a celebrated cartoonist is condemned by the social media hordes for depicting a famous sports star an unedifying tantrum.