Australian paper defends 'racist' Serena Williams cartoon with front-page stand

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Australia's Herald Sun newspaper is defending a cartoon depicting USA tennis star Serena Williams having a temper tantrum that many prominent voices have deemed egregiously racist.

"Mark has the full support of everyone", he said in a tweet.

The Herald Sun has hit out at those who criticised Mark Knight's drawing, which shows Williams jumping over a broken racquet next to a baby's dummy.

Williams was free to speak her mind after losing, 6-2, 6-4, Saturday to Japan's Naomi Osaka, and she accused chair umpire Carlos Ramos of sexism.

The Australian newspaper slapped the drawing on the front page of its Wednesday edition alongside the headline: "Welcome to PC World".

The Herald Sun reported on Tuesday that Knight had been mentioned on Twitter almost 74,000 times following the cartoon's publication.

Knight responded with cartoon he said he drew of Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios who was "behaving badly" at the U.S. Open.

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J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, was outraged by Knight reducing Serena Williams to a 'to racist and sexist tropes'.

Other US media pointed out that Osaka was portrayed as petite and feminine with blonde straight hair - in real life she has dark curly hair with blonde streaks and is taller than Williams.

The National Association of Black Journalists said the cartoon was "repugnant" on many levels.

"The Sept. 10 cartoon not only exudes racist, sexist caricatures of both women, but Williams' depiction is unnecessarily sambo-like", read the NABJ's statement.

Co-host Georgie Gardner said she wondered if Williams herself was concerned with the cartoon. Sportscaster and former pro Mary Carillo described him Monday as "very, very respected", and she said that Williams occasionally "acts like a bully". Asked to address the disparity in Williams' fines and Roger Federer's $1,500 fine for an expletive-laden outburst during the 2009 U.S. Open men's final, Adams said the fines are up to the discretion of the grand slam administrator, not the USTA. She then argued with the umpire and smashed her racket, for which she lost a point.

Still, Knight has come under withering criticism over the cartoon with many calling the thick-lipped facial features a "mammy character" and "racist".

This has further ruffled the feathers of some umpires, with an anonymous official revealing there is a growing consensus that umpires are "not supported" by the USTA, while Ramos was "thrown to the wolves for simply doing his job and was not willing to be abused for it".