Australia’s Herald Sun newspaper is defending a cartoon depicting U.S. tennis star Serena Williams having a temper tantrum that many prominent voices have deemed egregiously racist.
Herald Sun editor Damon Johnston said in a statement Tuesday that Mark Knight’s cartoon “had nothing to do with gender or race.”
“A champion tennis player had a mega tantrum on the world stage, and Mark’s cartoon depicted that,” the editor said. “It had nothing to do with gender or race. [T]his was about a bad sport being mocked.”
Mr. Knight’s cartoon published Monday showed Ms. Williams stomping on her tennis racket with a baby’s pacifier nearby, and the umpire asking Japan’s Naomi Osaka if she could “just let her win?” In the cartoon, Ms. Williams, who is black, is depicted with a stocky build, frizzy hair and exaggerated lips, while Ms. Osaka, a dark-haired Japanese woman whose father is originally from Haiti, is depicted as a skinny blonde woman.
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, rapper Nicki Minaj, and comedian Kathy Griffin are among the celebrities who have outrage outrage over the drawing.
The Melbourne-based newspaper issued an editorial Tuesday saying the backlash proved the world had “officially gone mad.”
“There is a valid and urgent need to continue the march toward true and real racial and sexual equality in all walks of life,” the board wrote. “But those who seek to prosecute their antiracial agenda by identifying racism in the Knight cartoon — where it does not exist — completely miss the point of the drawing. It rightly mocked Williams for her dummy-spit and unsporting performance, which ultimately robbed Osaka of her chance to truly celebrate a terrific, inaugural triumph against a woman she described as her personal hero.”
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