A controversial cartoon of US tennis star Serena Williams, showing the player as having a temper tantrum at the US Open, has been reprinted in an Australian newspaper.
The Herald Sun, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, first published the caricature of Williams with exaggerated lips, stomping on her tennis racket on Monday.
The image triggered widespread allegations of racism against illustrator Mark Knight.
The Herald Sun and the cartoonist denied the accusation, and despite the reactions and outrage it provoked, the paper reprinted the cartoon on Wednesday under the front page headline “WELCOME TO PC WORLD”.
The newspaper wrote in an editorial that “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”.
Herald Sun editor Damon Johnston extended the defence on Twitter as he denied any racism or sexism.
“It rightly mocks poor behaviour by a tennis legend,” Johnson tweeted.
Peter Blunden managing director of News Corp’s operations, also supported the cartoonist:
“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,” the director wrote on Twitter.
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. pic.twitter.com/CeHaoRG6gf
— Peter Blunden (@PeterBlunden_) September 11, 2018
But the cartoon keeps bringing criticism, most notably online.
Knight said he had received death threats against his family since it was published, forcing him to suspend his Twitter account.
The cartoon fuelled a global debate over Williams’ controversial defeat by Japan’s Naomi Osaka in the US Open women’s singles final in New York on Saturday.
Williams, who was vying to equal Australian player Margaret Court’s record of 24 grand slam singles titles, lost in straight sets after a heated clash with chair umpire Carlos Ramos over code violations that resulted in her being penalised a game.
Williams, who was fined $17,000 for the three code violations, said after the match male players were held to a lower standard for court conduct.
“I’m here fighting for women’s rights and women’s equality,” Williams told a post-match news conference.