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Aussie Newspaper Stands by Artist After Serena Williams Cartoon Condemned As Racist

Serena Williams
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The Australian newspaper that published a much-derided caricature of tennis star Serena Williams throwing a tantrum at the U.S. Open, is standing by its decision and its cartoonist.

The cartoon that offended many was published by the Melbourne-based Herald Sun on Monday and featured a thick-lipped, heavy-set image of Williams jumping up and down on a broken racket and screaming like a child. The image brought many to charge that cartoonist Mark Knight had created a “mammy-like” and “racist” image of the black tennis star.

A growing list of people attacked the paper and cartoonist for the drawing including the likes of Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, rapper Nicki Minaj, comedian Kathy Griffin, basketball player Ben Simmons, and others.

But the paper is not backing down in the face of the accusations of racism.

The day after the cartoon appeared, the paper insisted that cartoonist Knight was “Australia’s finest cartoonist” and flailed at critics as “self-appointed censors.”

In a Tuesday tweet, the Sun’s editor, Damon Johnston, tweeted out an image of the paper’s Wednesday front page which will feature a group of cartoons and the caption, “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.”

Johnston has also already come to artist’s support saying Knight’s cartoon “rightly mocks poor behavior by a tennis legend… Mark has the full support of everyone,” the BBC reported.

For his part, the cartoonist is also standing up for his work calling critics of his cartoon “crazy.”

“I drew this cartoon Sunday night after seeing the US Open final, and seeing the world’s best tennis player have a tantrum and thought that was interesting,” Knight said on Tuesday in the pagers of the Sun.

“The cartoon about Serena is about her poor behavior on the day, not about race. The world has just gone crazy,” he added.

So far, at least, in a refreshing change of pace for the media, the outrage machine is not scaring the paper away from supporting its cartoonist nor shaking the artist in his resolve to stand by his work.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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