'Racist' Serena Williams cartoon given Australian all-clear

Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams after the final

Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams after the final

A controversial Herald Sun cartoon of tennis star Serena Williams has been given the all clear by the Australian Press Council.

Knight and the paper vehemently denied the accusations, the cartoonist saying his intention was to shine a light on Williams' boorish behaviour during her US Open final loss to Japan's Naomi Osaka last September.

At the time, News Corp Australia's executive chairman, Michael Miller, said the world had become too "PC [politically correct]". One of the people to criticise the cartoon a year ago was Bernice King, the chief executive of the King Center and daughter of Martin Luther King Jr, who said the Herald Sun's stance was "without consideration for the painful historical context of such imagery and how it can support biases and racism today".

The press watchdog received a number of complaints which raised concerns over the "offensive" and "sexist representation" of Williams, and a "prejudicial racial stereotype" of African-American people.

"The cartoon about Serena is about her poor behaviour on the day, not about race", he said.

"Ms Williams' features contrasted with those of Ms Osaka who, while of Japanese-Haitian descent, is depicted as white with blonde hair, lacking any particularly distinguishing or exaggerated features".

"A champion tennis player had a mega-tantrum on the world stage, and Mark's cartoon depicted that", Johnston said past year.

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"It said it wanted to capture the on-court tantrum of Ms Williams using satire, caricature, exaggeration and humour, and the cartoon meant to depict her behaviour as childish by showing her spitting a pacifier out while she jumps up and down".

The editor of the Herald Sun, Damon Johnston, has said it had nothing to do with race or gender.

The Australian Press Council noted that some had found the image "offensive", but accepted the publisher's defence.

"The Council considers that the cartoon uses exaggeration and absurdity to make its point", it said.

In handing down its findings, the APC concluded: "The Council accepts there was a sufficient public interest in commenting on behaviour and sportsmanship during a significant dispute between a tennis player with a globally high profile and an umpire at the US Open final".

The Australian Press Council is the chief watchdog for complaints about Australian media, but does not have the power to issue or enforce penalties.

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