Serena Williams Cartoon Was Not Racist, Watchdog Rules

25 February 2019, 08:16

Serena Williams shouts abuse at the umpire in the US Open final
Serena Williams shouts abuse at the umpire in the US Open final. Picture: PA

A cartoon that depicted a furious Serena Williams throwing a tantrum after losing a match to Naomi Osaka was not racist, the Press Council has found.

Australian newspaper The Herald Sun came under fire in September for publishing the cartoon by Mark Knight.

Critics suggested the picture was racist and sexist in the way it depicted the tennis player.

However, the Press Council judged: "The Herald Sun said it was depicting the moment when, in a highly animated tantrum, Ms Williams smashed a racquet and loudly abused the chair umpire, calling him a thief, a liar and threatening that he would never umpire her matches again.

"It said it wanted to capture the on-court tantrum of Ms Williams using satire, caricature, exaggeration and humour, and the cartoon intended to depict her behaviour as childish by showing her spitting a pacifier out while she jumps up and down."

The editor of the newspaper, Damon Johnston, also denied there was anything wrong with the cartoon, stating: "A champion tennis player had a mega-tantrum on the world stage, and Mark’s cartoon depicted that.

"It had nothing to do with gender or race."

However, JK Rowling said the drawing had reduced “one of the greatest sportswomen alive to racist and sexist tropes”.

Ms Williams was furious after being docked a game for insulting the umpire during the US Open final in September. She called him "a liar" and "a thief" in an angry tirade.