Pa­per re­prints con­tro­ver­sial car­toon

The Her­ald Sun has been ac­cused of pub­lish­ing a ‘racist’ car­toon de­pict­ing Ser­ena Wil­liams

The Mercury - - METRO -

A CON­TRO­VER­SIAL car­toon of Ser­ena Wil­liams that has been widely con­demned as a racist de­pic­tion of the ten­nis great has been par­tially reprinted on the front page of the Mel­bourne-based news­pa­per that ini­tially pub­lished it.

The Her­ald Sun news­pa­per printed an edited por­tion of the car­toon – fea­tur­ing 23-time Grand Slam win­ner Wil­liams jump­ing on a bro­ken racket dur­ing her dis­pute with a chair um­pire in the US Open fi­nal – among car­i­ca­tures of other fa­mous peo­ple yes­ter­day un­der the head­line “Wel­come to the PC World”.

The news­pa­per has de­fended its car­toon­ist Mark Knight’s de­pic­tion of Wil­liams and is as­sert­ing the con­dem­na­tion, which has come from all parts of the world, is driven by po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness.

“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,” the pa­per printed on its front page.

Wil­liams has won the Aus­tralian Open sin­gles ti­tle seven times at Mel­bourne Park, in­clud­ing last year when she was preg­nant. She is a crowd favourite at the first ten­nis ma­jor of the year, which is held each Jan­uary at a venue that is within sight of the Her­ald Sun’s head­quar­ters.

In com­ments pub­lished by News Corp, Knight said that he cre­ated the car­toon af­ter watch­ing Wil­liams’ “tantrum” dur­ing her US Open fi­nal loss to Naomi Osaka on Satur­day and that it was de­signed to il­lus­trate “her poor be­hav­iour on the day, not about race”.

Knight re­port­edly has dis­abled his Twit­ter ac­count af­ter his post of the car­toon at­tracted tens of thou­sands of com­ments, mostly crit­i­cal.

Dur­ing the fi­nal against Osaka, Wil­liams got a warn­ing from the chair um­pire for vi­o­lat­ing a rarely en­forced rule against re­ceiv­ing coach­ing from the side­lines. An in­dig­nant Wil­liams em­phat­i­cally de­fended her­self, deny­ing she had cheated. A short time later, she smashed her racket in frus­tra­tion and was docked a point. She protested and de­manded an apol­ogy from the um­pire, who pe­nalised her a game.

Crit­ics of Knight’s car­toon de­scribed it as a clear ex­am­ple of a stereo­type fac­ing black women, de­pict­ing Wil­liams as an irate, hulk­ing, big­mouthed black woman jump­ing up and down on a bro­ken racket. The um­pire was shown telling a blonde, slen­der woman – meant to be Osaka, who is Ja­panese and Haitian – “Can you just let her win?”

“I was deeply of­fended. This is not a joke,” said Vanessa K de Luca, for­mer edi­tor-in-chief of Essence mag­a­zine, who wrote a col­umn about the US Open furore.

The car­toon­ist “com­pletely missed the point of why she was up­set”, De Luca told The As­so­ci­ated Press. “It was about her in­tegrity, and any­body who doesn’t get that is per­pet­u­at­ing the era­sure that so many black women feel when they are trying to speak up for them­selves. It’s like our opin­ions don’t mat­ter.”

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.” – AP

| Mark Knight/Her­ald Sun News Corp/AP

The Mark Knight car­toon pub­lished by the Her­ald Sun de­picts Ser­ena Wil­liams as an irate, big-mouthed black woman jump­ing on a racket. The um­pire was shown telling a blonde, slen­der woman – meant to be Naomi Osaka “Can you just let her win?”

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