Australian newspaper defiantly reprints cartoon of Serena Williams

Australian newspaper defiantly reprints cartoon of Serena Williams

Herald Sun cartoonist Mark Knight made worldwide headlines this week after his cartoon depicting Serena Williams responding to the umpire was slammed as racist, reinforcing denigrating tropes against African-Americans popularised in the segregationist Jim Crow era.

Knight said that he created the cartoon after watching Williams' "tantrum" against Osaka over the weekend to illustrate "her poor behavior on the day, not about race", The Associated Press reported.

In the cartoon, Williams is jumping up and down as the umpire asks Osaka, "Can you just let her win?".

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

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

Mark Knight's caricature of the 23-time grand slam champion's outburst at the US Open appeared in Melbourne's Herald Sun.

The Herald Sun, owned by News Corp, first published the caricature of Williams with exaggerated lips and tongue and curly hair rising from the top of her head as she stomped on her tennis racket on Monday.

Drawn by Fairfax illustrator David Pope, the cartoon replaces Williams with News' supremo Rupert Murdoch who, in turn, is now having a tantrum that his publication, the Herald Sun, isn't getting its way.

Mark Knight also made excuses. "I think that's probably the context of the conversation".

As noted by the Herald Sun, fellow cartoonist Michael Leunig said Knight's cartoon was not offensive, but truthful.

British author J.K. Rowling was among those critical of the piece, saying Mr Knight had reduced Ms Williams to a "racist and sexist trope".

Australian cartoonist Paul Zanetti weighed in saying it was the job of cartoonists to call out bad behaviour and not fall prey to an increasingly politically correct culture.

In the match, Williams got a warning from chair umpire Carlos Ramos for violating a rule about getting coaching from the sidelines. "After a couple more detours, I landed on one with the "male" symbol as a tennis racket labeled 'sexism" that Serena was breaking. I think the entire cartoon is just over the top, but the racism aspect of it is really what makes it repugnant. "She's a lot of fun to draw and I didn't draw her with malicious racial intent".

Tobi Oredein, a freelance journalist and founder of Black Ballad, a platform which aims to tell the stories of black women, told HuffPost UK: "As a black woman I was disgusted but not surprised when I saw the cartoon". "Regardless of whether that was the cartoonist's intention, [racist caricatures are] an important frame through which many people will understand the image - and I find it very hard to believe that Knight would not be aware of those connotations", says Dr Tom Davies, senior lecturer in American History at the University of Sussex.