'The world has just gone crazy': Cartoonist, newspaper defend Serena Williams caricature
Herald Sun backs depiction of tennis star's outburst at U.S. Open after online controversy
An Australian newspaper is defending a cartoon depiction of Serena Williams' U.S. Open outburst after widespread online criticism called the caricature "racist" and "sexist."
"The cartoon about Serena is about her poor behaviour on the day, not about race. The world has just gone crazy," said cartoonist Mark Knight.
Damon Johnston, editor of the Herald Sun, backed the Knight drawing in a tweet saying the "cartoon is not racist or sexist" and that "it rightly mocks poor behaviour by a tennis legend."
<a href="https://twitter.com/Knightcartoons?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Knightcartoons</a> cartoon is not racist or sexist .... it rightly mocks poor behavior by a tennis legend ... Mark has the full support of everyone <a href="https://twitter.com/theheraldsun?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@theheraldsun</a> <a href="https://t.co/KWMT3QahJh">pic.twitter.com/KWMT3QahJh</a>—@damonheraldsun
The defence comes after many online denounced the cartoon for its exaggerated features of Williams where she is seen stomping on her racket while the chair ump asks her opponent: "Can you just let her win?"
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. <a href="https://t.co/YOxVMuTXEC">https://t.co/YOxVMuTXEC</a>—@jk_rowling
About as subtle as Fran Drescher’s voice 🤦🏿♀️ <a href="https://t.co/VM23b4XnlI">https://t.co/VM23b4XnlI</a>—@jemelehill
To disrespect Serena Williams, a 23 time Grand Slam Champion, in this light is truly disappointing. As an Australian, I am truly disappointed <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/morethananathlete?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#morethananathlete</a>—@BenSimmons25
Some also believed the cartoon "whitewashed" U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka, who is mixed race, by depicting her as a blond, white woman.
Watch Signa Butler discuss the public outcry to the Williams cartoon:
In response to the controversy, the Herald Sun went a step further and shared an early copy of Wednesday's front page. The headline reads: "Welcome to PC world" and includes the Williams cartoon and a collage of several other Knight caricatures.
Tomorrow's <a href="https://twitter.com/theheraldsun?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@theheraldsun</a> front page tonight <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/auspol?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#auspol</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/springst?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#springst</a> <a href="https://t.co/2nuLbKppku">pic.twitter.com/2nuLbKppku</a>—@damonheraldsun
In a social media post, Peter Blunden, managing director of News Corp.'s operations in the state of Victoria, said: "Australia's finest cartoonist Mark Knight has the strongest support of his colleagues for his depiction of Serena Williams' petulance. It's about bad behaviour, certainly not race. The PC brigade are way off the mark ... again."
Watch the controversial decision from the chair empire that led to Williams' outburst:
According to the Times, umpires may boycott Williams matches after her behaviour at the U.S. Open toward chair umpire Carlos Ramos. Williams was fined a total of $17,000 US for three code violations during that match for "verbal abuse," being warned for coaching and for breaking her racket.
Knight has since deleted his social media accounts.
With files from The Associated Press