- The controversial cartoon that depicted Serena Williams as an angry baby with exaggerated features is “racist and misogynistic,” according to her husband Alexis Ohanian.
- The cartoon was published twice in Australian newspaper The Herald Sun and has been defended by the cartoonist and the paper’s editor.
- The editor is associated with “Male Champions of Change,” an organisation that needs “powerful men to step up beside women in building a gender equal world.”
- This relationship has left Ohanian “perplexed.”
Alexis Ohanian has responded to the controversial cartoon that showed Serena Williams as an angry baby with exaggerated features.
The drawing was published twice by The Herald Sun – once on Monday, where it received a strong backlash around the world, and then again on the front page of its Wednesday edition, alongside a headline that read: “Welcome to PC World.”
The cartoon was a response to 23-time Grand Slam tennis champion Williams’ behaviour during the 2018 US Open final on September 8. Williams lost in straight sets to Naomi Osaka, but was given three code violations for receiving coaching, for smashing her racket, and for verbal abuse.
Cartoonist Mark Knight gave Williams grossly exaggerated features like oversized lips, a big nose, and wiry hair. The drawing has been criticised for using racist tropes – and Ohanian believes the cartoon is “blatantly racist and misogynistic.”
Knight said earlier this week that he had been “unfairly” criticised on social media, and that the world had “just gone crazy.” The Herald Sun’s editor Damon Johnston defended Knight, and the cartoon, by saying it “is not racist or sexist.”
Ohanian thinks differently, adding his surprise that Johnston is associated with the “Male Champions of Change,” an organisation that says it needs “more decent, powerful men to step up beside women in building a gender equal world.” For Ohanian, this seems at odds with the paper’s stance on Williams, which also called her “no feminist hero.”
In a tweet published on September 13, Ohanian said: “I am truly perplexed to learn this editor of the Australian newspaper behind the blatantly racist and misogynistic cartoon of my wife is a ‘Male Champion of Change.’ Is this supposed to be satire, too?”
I am truly perplexed to learn this editor of the Australian newspaper behind the blatantly racist & misogynistic cartoon of my wife is a “Male Champion of Change” ???? Is this supposed to be satire, too? @malechampions @LizBroderick https://t.co/QAq25HAhTo https://t.co/jOuYojCE3P
— Alexis Ohanian Sr. ????️7️⃣7️⃣6️⃣ (@alexisohanian) September 13, 2018
Ohanian frequently stands up for Williams. When fans criticised Ohanian and Williams for not celebrating the first birthday of their daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., Ohanian gave the perfect response. Williams, as a Jehovah’s Witness, does not believe in birthday celebrations and Ohanian said his daughter “is loved and will get to celebrate life with people who love her plenty of times.”
He is no stranger to publicly declaring his love for Williams. To welcome her back to tennis earlier this year, he installed four giant billboards in California that called her “the greatest mother of all time.”
He also called his marriage to Williams “a front-row seat to greatness.”
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