News Cartoons ‘Welcome to PC world’: Newspaper’s defence of Williams drawing

‘Welcome to PC world’: Newspaper’s defence of Williams drawing

mark knight serena williams
The Herald Sun featured other Mark Knight caricatures, in defence of his Serena Williams drawing. Photo: Twitter
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News Ltd has doubled down on its controversial cartoon of Serena Williams, republishing the illustration with a defiant front page headlined “Welcome to PC world”.

Page one of Wednesday’s Herald Sun showed a collection of cartoonist Mark Knight’s drawings – including Williams and her infamous US Open tantrum.

“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 wrote.

Knight’s front page – which also featured caricatures of former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce, US President Donald Trump, One Nation leader Pauline Hanson and new Prime Minister Scott Morrison – followed accusations of sexism and racism from around the globe after his drawing of Williams.

First published on Tuesday, it was Knight’s take on the controversial US Open women’s final, which Williams lost to Japan’s Naomi Osaka after being given three code violations.

Knight has rejected suggestions his depiction of Williams was racist or sexist, while others said it drew on racist tropes of African-Americans.

“I saw the world No.1 tennis player have a huge hissy fit and spit the dummy,” Knight said on Tuesday.

“That’s what the cartoon was about, her poor behaviour on the court.”

In a double-page spread inside the newspaper, Herald Sun editor Damon Johnston defended the drawing.

“It had nothing to do with gender or race. This was about a bad sport being mocked,” he said.

Radio broadcaster Neil Mitchell agreed, saying Knight was simply sending Williams up “because she was acting like a bully and a child. And he’s right”.

The Herald Sun reported on Wednesday that Knight had suspended his Twitter account following abuse towards his family about the cartoon.

serena williams mark knight
Mark Knight’s controversial drawing. Photo: Twitter

In response to Wednesday’s front page, Aboriginal playwright and actor Nakkiah Lui tweeted that the Herald Sun needed to “chill”.

“Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom above criticism,” she said.

“What we have is a bunch of people who get paid to publicly exercise their implied freedom to speech then whinging when people disagree with what they have had the privilege of being paid to say.”

In the US, the National Association of Black Journalists condemned Knight’s cartoon, calling it “repugnant on many levels”.

“The Sept. 10 cartoon not only exudes racist, sexist caricatures of both women, but Williams’ depiction is unnecessarily sambo-like,” it said.

“The art of editorial cartooning is a visual dialogue on the issues of the day, yet this cartoon grossly inaccurately depicts two women of color at the US Open, one of the grandest stages of professional sports.”

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling had one of the earliest strong responses to the original work, tweeting: “Well done on reducing one of the greatest sportswomen alive to racist and sexist tropes and turning a great sportswoman into a faceless prop”.

Comedian Kathy Griffin, rapper Nicky Minaj and Australian basketballer Ben Simmons were other prominent critics of Knight’s original drawing.

-with agencies