Melbourne, Australia’s newspaper, The Herald Sun is not backing down after it published an editorial cartoon of Serena Williams, which many critics have labeled an example of blatant racism. The newspaper’s digital site published in an article on Tuesday (Sept. 11), in support of illustrator Mark Knight’s caricature and the paper’s decision to run it.
The controversial illustration depicts Serena throwing a tantrum on the tennis court, which is a reference to her viral disagreement with the chair umpire at Saturday’s U.S. Open Women’s Singles Final. Williams is drawn noticeably larger with stereotypical and exaggerated black features. In the background, her opponent, Naomi Osaka – who is a woman of Haitian and Japanese descent – is drawn as a white woman with blond hair. An umpire is depicted asking her to allow Williams to win.
In the new Herald Sun article, Knight defended his work, saying, “I drew this cartoon Sunday night after seeing the U.S. Open final, and seeing the world’s best tennis player have a tantrum and thought that was interesting.” “The cartoon about Serena is about her poor behavior on the day, not about race. The world has just gone crazy,” he added.
Herald Sun editor, Damon Johnson also chimed in. “A champion tennis player had a mega tantrum on the world stage, and Mark’s cartoon depicted that,” Johnson added. “It had nothing to do with gender or race. This was about a bad sport being mocked.”
Despite the newspaper’s recent statement, fans are still labeling the cartoon racist. A number of critics have spoken up about issues with the illustrations, including Jemele Hill, Shonda Rhimes, J.K. Rowling and more.
Read the full Herald Sun article regarding the cartoon here.