Australia’s press watchdog has ruled that the Herald Sun’s controversial cartoon of Serena Williams was not racist and did not breach media standards.
The controversial cartoon, created by the Herald Sun’s Mark Knight, depicts Serena Williams’s dummy spit during the US Open final.
It subsequently drew accusations of racism and sexism around the world.
Knight denied the allegations the cartoon was racist.
In a statement, the Press Council said it “accepts that the cartoon was illustrated in response to the events” that took place at the US Open final last year on September 9, which garnered world-wide attention.
“The Council considers that the cartoon uses exaggeration and absurdity to make its point but accepts the publisher’s claim that it does not depict Ms Williams as an ape, rather showing her as ‘spitting the dummy’, a non-racist caricature familiar to most Australian readers”.
While the Council acknowledge some readers found the cartoon offensive, they also accepted 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.
“As such, the Council does not consider that the publication failed to take reasonable steps to avoid causing substantial offence, distress or prejudice, without sufficient justification in the public interest.
“Accordingly the Council concludes that its Standards of Practice were not breached”.