Herald Sun Defends 'Astonishingly Racist' Serena Williams Cartoon

"The misogynoir in this is disgraceful."

Mark Knight has defended his cartoon, saying it's about "poor behaviour" and has "nothing to do with race".

"The world's gone crazy," he told 3AW's Neil Mitchell.

"I never thought this would happen in my life. I'm being trolled by J.K. Rowling."

He said it didn't even cross his mind that his depiction of Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka -- which plays up the former's race, and erases the latter's -- would be racially offensive, but claims that social media has "distorted" it.

“I’ve tried to reply to these people but they don’t listen," he claimed, adding that Williams is "great to draw".

The Herald Sun has also defending the cartoon, with editor Damon Johnston saying: "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."

READ MORE: Why Does Australia Have A Racist Cartoon Problem?

READ MORE: Serena Williams Tells Umpire: 'You're A Thief. You Owe Me An Apology.'

Serena Williams cartoon "astonishingly racist"

A cartoon depicting the Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka showdown in the US Open Final, published in the Herald Sun, is facing enormous backlash after being branded both racist and sexist.

The cartoon, by Mark Knight, depicts Williams with exaggerated lips throwing a temper tantrum on the court.

Inexplicably, Osaka -- who is biracial, with a Haitian father and Japanese mother -- is depicted as white and blonde. Umpire Carlos Ramos is telling Osaka:  "Can't you just let her win?"

The cartoon that started it all. Photo: Herald Sun.

"They say a picture speaks a thousand words but sometimes they speak two words," tweeted the IndigenousX Twitter account. "'Sexism' and 'racism'."

Black people depicted with exaggerated features is steeped in racist history, and echoes the Jim Crow cartoons of the 19th and 20 Centuries.

Knight's cartoon has gained international attention, with the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) in the United States condemning it as "repugnant on many levels."

"The racist cartoon of Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka by Mark Knight of the Herald Sun is repugnant on many levels. The Sept. 10 cartoon not only exudes racist, sexist caricatures of both women, but Williams’ depiction is unnecessarily sambo-like. The art of editorial cartooning is a visual dialogue on the issues of the day, yet this cartoon grossly inaccurately depicts two women of color at the US Open, one of the grandest stages of professional sports."

Even Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has joined the growing chorus of people condemning the cartoon.

Others have described it as "astonishingly" and "disgustingly racist", a "Jim Crow-era artwork", and accused Knight of pushing an "angry black woman agenda".

READ MORE: Did Serena Williams Fall Victim To Double Standards?

READ MORE: Sorry Serena, But An Umpire Enforcing The Rules Is Not Sexism

"Where was this cartoon for all the men who have broken their racquets over the years?" asked one person on Twitter.

Knight responded by sharing a cartoon depicting Nick Kyrgios -- also with exaggerated features -- he'd previously published.

"Don't bring gender into this when it's all about behaviour," he said. "I'll accept your apology in writing."

At the time of writing, that is the only statement Knight has made about his cartoon. The Herald Sun has been contacted for comment.

Contact the author: abrucesmith@networkten.com.au

Photo: Herald Sun

Sexism? You Be The Umpire