Controversial Serena Williams cartoon deemed not racist by Australian watchdog

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Serena Williams pointing

The Australian Press Council has found that a controversial cartoon of Serena Williams that critics labelled as racist and sexist did not breach media standards.

The cartoon by illustrator Mark Knight was published in The Melbourne Herald Sun in September last year and it depicted a fat-lipped Williams jumping over a broken racket and throwing a tantrum in during the US Open final against Naomi Osaka.

The caricature sparked a lot of controversy as many felt it was racist and sexist stereotypes of African-American people.

The Melbourne Herald Sun, though, doubled down and republished it on its front page under the headline “WELCOME TO PC WORLD”.

After receiving complaints, the Australian Press Council looked into it, but they found that it was not racist adding that it “may cause it to be an offensive and sexist representation of a woman and a prejudicial racial stereotype of African-American people generally”.

The report added: “The Council considers that the cartoon uses exaggeration and absurdity to make its point.

“It accepts the publisher’s claim that it does not depict Ms Williams as an ape, rather showing her as ‘spitting the dummy’, a non-racist caricature familiar to most Australian readers.

“As such, the Council does not consider that the publication failed to take reasonable steps to avoid causing substantial offence, distress or prejudice, without sufficient justification in the public interest.”


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