Sports

Cartoonist defends portrayal of Serena Williams

Cartoonist defends portrayal of Serena Williams

An Australian newspaper doubled down on its decision to run a cartoon of Serena Williams that has been called racist and sexist.

The cartoon fuelled a global debate over Williams' controversial defeat by Japan's Naomi Osaka in the U.S. Open women's singles final in NY on Saturday.

The caricature was published alongside unflattering cartoons of US President Donald Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un.

Beneath it, the newspaper offered this commentary: 'If the self-appointed censors of Mark Knight get their way on his Serena Williams cartoon, our new politically correct life will be very boring indeed'.

Knight said he has received death threats over the cartoon and his Twitter account has since been deleted.

The cartoon appeared in Herald Sun after Williams' lost in straight sets to Naomi Osaka during the weekend's US Open final.

Knight said he didn't intend his cartoon to be commentary of gender or racial politics and instead was depicting an athlete behaving poorly on court. She later was fined $17,000 ($10,000 for verbal abuse, $4,000 for the coaching violation and $3,000 for racket abuse).

The image outraged many members of the public, with people taking to social media criticising the animation - saying it was racist and had sexist stereotypes.

Mark Knight spoke to 7News on Tuesday.

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"But to focus on that, I think, is missing the point".

Navratilova concluded in her piece: "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.' Rather, I think the question we have to ask ourselves is this: What is the right way to behave to honor our sport and to respect our opponents?"

The cartoon lampoons Williams's heated dispute with umpire Carlos Ramos during her loss in last week's U.S. Open women's final match to rising star Naomi Osaka. "After a couple more detours, I landed on one with the "male" symbol as a tennis racket labeled 'sexism" that Serena was breaking.

It once again provoked a reaction on social media - with many pointing to the irony of the Herald Sun having its own "tantrum".

"It's a cartoon about poor behavior". I drew her as she is, as an African-American woman.

The paper and cartoonist in question could have easily apologized for any offense caused, said it wasn't intended that way and admitted that it went too far, and moved on. "I drew her as this powerful figure, which she is, she's strongly built".

"A champion tennis player had a mega tantrum on the world stage, and Mark's cartoon depicted that", Herald editor Damon Johnston wrote in a statement.

"Caricature is hard. I've often taken the Spider-Man mantra to heart: 'With great power comes great responsibility, '" says Litton, a veteran sports cartoonist and National Cartoonists Society award victor who has also caricatured tennis champ John McEnroe.