Australian Football Players Use Blackface for Horrific Venus and Serena Williams Costumes

A group of Aussie rules footballers apologize for wearing blackface to depict Serena and Venus Williams, but the statement still rings hollow.

Venus Williams, Serena Williams

Image via Getty/Earl Gibson III/WireImage

Venus Williams, Serena Williams

Three players on an Australian rules football team—Mitch Stanley, Matt Chamberlain, and Beau Grundy of the Penguin Football Club in Tasmania—apologized for an apparent attempt to "dress as one of their sporting idols," the club said in a statement. Those "idols" were Serena Williams and Venus Williams, and by "dress," they meant blackface, which they "never intended to be racist in any way." 

Sure thing.

Some Australians still have no clue what is considered racist. This Mad Monday "costume" is clearly racist. And I'm a person who is fed up with today's over-the-top political correctness.

— Francis Gonzalez (@fgonzalez_) September 19, 2018

Blackface has long been used as a costume of sorts that reinforces hurtful caricatures of minorities. "It was not their intention to upset anyone," the statement said. Thankfully, the rest of the apology is less naive:

"Those concerned have been reprimanded and will be given support to make sure they understand that their behavior was racist and hurtful and that it will not happen again. The players concerned have acknowledged that what they did was completely and utterly unacceptable and would like to apologize unreservedly for their lack of judgment.”

However, the behavior comes a little over a week after Mark Knight drew a racist cartoon of Serena Williams in the Melbourne Herald Sun after she strongly disagreed with the umpire in the U.S. Open Final:

Tomorrow's @theheraldsun front page tonight #auspol #springst

— Damon Johnston (@damonTheOz) September 11, 2018

Instead of recognizing the misogyny and racism of the image depiction of tennis' GOAT, the Melbourne Herald Sun decided to go full-throttle Fox News and run a headline that read as one of the alt-right's favorite talking points: "Welcome to the PC World."

Well done on reducing one of the greatest sportswomen alive to racist and sexist tropes and turning a second great sportswoman into a faceless prop.

— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) September 10, 2018

A rush of people fell in line to defend Serena, including J.K. Rowling:

ABC notes that there's been a spurt of blackface sightings in the country recently, but they've been met with the sort of ridicule experienced by the Penguin football club and Mark Knight. After the response to his cartoon of Serena, Knight's Twitter account appears to have been taken down.

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