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Defiant Australian newspaper reprints Serena cartoon

Serena Williams

Sydney, September 12: Australian newspaper The Herald Sun defied criticism and allegations of racismwhen it reprinted a controversial cartoon on its front page depicting former world No.1 Serena Williams having a temper tantrum at the US Open final.

I'm still not sure what happened with Serena in final - Osaka

The newspaper, owned by News Corp, first published the caricature of Serena with exaggerated lips and tongue and curly hair rising from the top of her head as she stomped on her tennis racquet on Monday.

The image triggered widespread allegations of racism against illustrator Mark Knight. The Herald Sun and Knight deny the cartoon is racist.

The controversial Serena Williams sketch

Despite the outrage, the paper reprinted the cartoon alongside unflattering caricatures of US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, attempting to portray the controversy as an effort to curtail free speech.

"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 in an editorial on its front page.

Herald Sun editor Damon Johnston extended the defence on Twitter as he denied any racism or sexism."It rightly mocks poor behaviour by a tennis legend," Johnson tweeted.

However, the cartoon still drew widespread criticism, most notably online. Knight said he had received death threats against his family since the cartoon was published, forcing him to suspend his Twitter account.

The cartoon fuelled a global debate over Serena's controversial defeat to Japan's Naomi Osaka in the US Open women's singles final in New York on Saturday.

Serena, who was vying to equal Australian player Margaret Court's record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles, lost in straight sets after a heated clash with chair umpire Carlos Ramos over code violations that resulted in her being penalised a game.

The incident has split the tennis community. Novak Djokovic, the US Open men's champion, criticised Ramos, while Court backed the use of the code violation penalty.

Serena, who was fined $17,000 for the three code violations, said after the match male players were held to a lower standard for court conduct.

"I'm here fighting for women's rights and women's equality," Serena had told a post-match press conference.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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    Story first published: Wednesday, September 12, 2018, 11:53 [IST]
    Other articles published on Sep 12, 2018
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