Australian newspaper publishing slammed for racist cartoon of Serena Williams

Australian newspaper publishing slammed for racist cartoon of Serena Williams

Australian newspaper The Herald Sun has been eviscerated for publishing a racist cartoon of Serena Williams after her US Open Final defeat.

The illustration was published in the Rupert Murdoch-owned Melbourne-based newspaper on Monday. It depicts Williams, 36, as a baby having a tantrum on the court.

The image is staggeringly unflattering. In it, Williams’ lips and nose are enlarged and her cheekbones have been emphasized.  A spat-out pacifier lies next to her feet and she is shown jumping in the air, her fists clenched in frustration like a petulant child.

In the background is Naomi Osaka, the 20-year-old Haitian-Japanese athlete who won the match.

She is depicted as slender, white and blonde, looking up hopefully towards umpire Carlos Ramos.

Cartoonist Mark Knight proudly shared it on Twitter as did the newspaper. Their pride was quickly met with disgust from critics around the world who compared the image to a Jim Crow-era representation of black women.

Among the most appalled critics was J.K. Rowling.

She tweeted: ‘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.’

Kathy Griffin branded him a ‘racist piece of s***’ and said: ‘Just change your name to KKK cartoons.’

Others deemed it ‘disgustingly racist’,  ‘truly vile’ and ‘an insult to both women’.

‘In 100 years time this cartoon will be viewed no differently than old images of Jim Crow, or the newspaper cartoons drawn of Jack Johnson.

‘Mark Knight has just drawn his way into the history books,’ said one critic.

Others likened it to the black mammy cartoons and memorabilia that are synonymous with the Jim Crow era.

They were equally outraged by his depiction of Williams as they were of him ‘white washing’ Osaka.

‘And who is the white girl? Her opponent is Haitian& Japanese. You’re clearly trying to send a racist message. Disgusting,’ said one critic.

Neither the cartoonist nor a representative for News Corp Australia, which owns the newspaper, responded to’s inquiries on Monday morning.

Knight did hit back at one critic on Twitter who accused him of picking on Williams for a being a woman.

He directed them to a cartoon he drew of tennis bad-boy Nick Kyrgios and wrote: ‘Here’s a cartoon I drew a few days before when Australian male tennis player Kyrgios at the US Open was behaving badly.

‘Don’t bring gender into it when it’s all about behaviour. I’ll accept your apology in writing.’

He has not responded to the barrage of complaints labeling it racist.

Williams’ outburst on the court divided public opinion and has caused rippling controversy in the sport.

She accused Ramos of sexism for penalizing her repeatedly on Saturday. Their dispute began when he cited her for a code violation, claiming she was being coached through the game.

Williams denied it furiously. Her coach Patrick Mouratoglou has since spoken out to defend her by admitting that he was coaching her but claiming she did not see it.

When Williams smashed her racket on the court in frustration after missing a shot, Ramos penalized by taking a point off the score.

She lashes out furiously, labeling him a ‘thief’ and insisting that he would not have treated a male player so harshly.

The outburst cost her a whole game. Ramos chalked it down as an appropriate punishment for ‘verbal abuse’.

In press conferences afterwards, Williams stood by her reaction to his decisions an maintained that she had seen male players behave in worse ways without reprimand.

Many stood up for her including former US Open winner Andy Roddick. The WTA also took her side.

Others have however disagreed with her claim there is sexism in the sport.

Novak Djokovic, who won the Men’s Final on Sunday, said that while Ramos should not have ‘pushed’ her to the edge, he does not believe there are different standards for male and female athletes.

She was ultimately fined $17,000 for the three violations.