An Australian newspaper has defended its decision to publish a controversial cartoon of Serena Williams with a special front page attacking the “self-appointed censors” who found it racist and sexist.
The Herald Sun, which faced a backlash after publishing an illustration which showed the tennis star angrily jumping on a tennis racket, republished the cartoon on the cover of Wednesday’s paper – along with other cartoons based on Donald Trump, Kim Jong Un, and Australian prime minister Scott Morrison.
Under the headline “Welcome to PC world”, the paper said: “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.”
Mr Knight’s cartoon followed a tense US Open final, where Williams had a dramatic showdown with the umpire.
The 36-year-old received three warnings for coaching, smashing her racket and calling the umpire a thief in the tense match on Saturday.
She was docked a game and fined £13,000 ($17,000), eventually losing to Japan’s Naomi Osaka – by 2-6, 4-6.
In the cartoon, the referee asks Osaka: “Can’t you just let her win?”
JK Rowling was among those who criticised the illustration, saying: ” “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.”
Brian Klaas, associate professor of global politics at University College London, added: “So depressing that this racist garbage gets produced and published in 2018.”
Damon Johnston, who edits the Herald Sun, said the cartoon “rightly mocks poor behaviour by a tennis legend” – and Mr Knight has the full support of everyone” at the paper.
Mr Knight, who had tweeted out his cartoon, took down his social media profiles after he and his family were subject to online abuse.
He told the paper: “The cartoon was just about Serena on the day having a tantrum.
“A few days beforehand I had actually drawn a cartoon of Australian Nick Kyrgios and his bad behaviour at the US Open, so I’m not targeting [Williams]. Serena is a champion.”