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‘Racist’ cartoon of Serena Williams cleared by watchdog

PICTURED: Serena Williams

A CARTOON of Serena Williams that was featured in an Australian newspaper, has been cleared of racism from a press watchdog.

The cartoon which appeared in the Herald Sun newspaper in September 2018, depicted the tennis star jumping in the air and “spitting the dummy” after losing a match to Naomi Osaka.

It was deemed both ‘racist’ and ‘sexist’ by many due to the large lips, broad flat nose and and positioning of Williams in the image. This was also aided by the image of Osaka - who is of Haitian and Japanese descent - illustrated with white hair and pale skin in the cartoon.

While the Australian Press Council noted that some found the image “offensive”, the Herald Sun newspaper and cartoonist Mark Knight have consistently called their depiction a comment on Williams's behaviour, denying it was racist or sexist.

The press watchdog added that the newspaper had "sufficient public interest in commenting on behaviour and sportsmanship".

“[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,” the council said.

“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.”

Despite the verdict in favour of the publication, many have taken to social media to share their thoughts on the matter.

One Twitter user wrote: “this decision from the @AusPressCouncil tell us the institutions that set standards of best practice is fine with overt racist imagery. This is the cartoon equivalent of littering your copy with racial slurs.”

Another said: “When will white people stop telling people of colour what does and what doesn’t count as racist?! Was there anyone of colour on this panel?”

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