Underneath the headline "Welcome to PC world", the newspaper wrote: "If the self-appointed censors of Mark Knight get their way on his Serena Williams cartoon, our new politically correct life will be very dull indeed".
Knight's original drawing, published in the Herald Sun on Monday, referenced Williams's outburst during the US Open final at the weekend, showing the umpire asking Japan's Naomi Osaka: "Can you just let her win?"
It led people, including author J. K. Rowling, to accuse the newspaper of racism.
"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," Rowling wrote on Twitter.
Some also said Knight had "whitewashed" Osaka, whose father is Haitian and mother Japanese. She was drawn as a white woman with blonde hair.
The cartoonist denied it was racist, saying he had intended to depict only the tennis player's "poor behaviour".
Herald Sun editor Damon Johnston also jumped to Knight's defence, saying in a tweet that the cartoon "rightly mocks poor behaviour by a tennis legend... Mark has the full support of everyone".
Mark Knight's original cartoon sparked outrage
He later shared an image of the front page, which included a series of other cartoons the newspaper was suggesting could offend the "self-appointed sensors".
It once again provoked a reaction on social media - with many pointing to the irony of the Herald Sun having its own "tantrum".
"I'm genuinely embarrassed for you," Julie Stoddart said in a tweet, while Ken McAlpine tweeted: "Poor little newspaper needs a hug."
Others, however, backed the newspaper's stance.
"This will trigger the perpetually offended," tweeted @RohanCT.
Another Twitter user, Paul Pellen, added: "Outrage for the sake of outrage! Lefties fingers must be bleeding! @Knightcartoons, keep it up. There are still some of us who enjoy humour."
Knight's social media accounts, meanwhile, have disappeared.
The cartoonist said on Tuesday that "the world has just gone crazy", telling the Australian Broadcasting Corporation it "was just about Serena on the day having a tantrum".
Knight also rejected a suggestion that he would not draw a similar image of a man. As evidence, he tweeted his recent cartoon of tennis player Nick Kyrgios.
Serena Williams’s Time Out
By Daniel Henninger
In these oh-so-knowing times, it is commonplace to mock the suggestion that events in sports can be a metaphor for real life. Cynics call it a sports-metaphor alert. But maybe it's the other way around. Given the confused state of real life, we should consider ourselves lucky that sports exist as a mirror for reflection. Exhibit A this week, bigger than the NFL, is "the mother of all meltdowns."
That was the New York Post's apt description of Serena Williams's hyperemotional stoppage of play in the second set of the U.S. Open tennis final between her and Naomi Osaka. It was one of those incidents that transcended Twitter . People grabbed the phone. I got two calls. "Did you see that!!!???"
The best thing about this incident is that Donald Trump didn't tweet. It was already beyond the explosion point. Still, a major national controversy that doesn't involve Donald Trump—hard to believe.
It would take up half the space available here to describe in detail what happened. The short version:
Ms. Williams lost the first set to Ms. Osaka, who is 20 years old and moved to the U.S. from Japan when she was 3. In the flexible national-origin rules of professional tennis, she represents Japan. Growing up in New York and Florida, Ms. Osaka idolized Ms. Williams.
In the second set, the chair umpire, Carlos Ramos, gave Ms. Williams a warning for being coached from the stands. Patrick Mouratoglou, her coach, said of course he was coaching her, which is against the rules, but it shouldn't matter because everyone does it, including Rafael Nadal's uncle Toni.
After losing her serve, Ms. Williams pulped her racket against the ground and then walked to the chair to have it out with Mr. Ramos. "You owe me an apology," she said. "I have never cheated in my life. I have a daughter and I stand for what's right for her." Mr. Ramos gave her a point penalty for the crushed racket.
Ms. Williams won the next game, and then the 2018 women's final pretty much imploded. For what seemed like 10 minutes, Ms. Williams attacked Mr. Ramos, calling him a "thief" for stealing points from her. Staring at them, Ms. Osaka forlornly dropped the two balls she thought she was supposed to serve and walked away. Mr. Ramos then imposed a rare game penalty on Ms. Williams. It escalated. All over America people were calling in family members to see this.
Ms. Williams demanded the on-court presence of the tournament referee and the Grand Slam supervisor. They appeared. She told them: "There are men out here that do a lot worse, but because I'm a woman, because I'm a woman, you're going to take this away from me? That is not right." She said repeatedly, "This isn't fair." It went on, seemingly forever.
Nonspoiler alert for a spoiled event: Ms. Osaka finally served out the match to win the U.S. Open, for which she essentially apologized at the award ceremony. The New York crowd lived up to its low reputation by booing Ms. Osaka's victory even into the awards event until Ms. Williams told them to stop.
Tennis can sort out the gender, fairness and umpiring issues Ms. Williams raised during her courtside negotiation session. Let the rest of us return to the real world.
In the real world, public tantrums have become commonplace and even ratified as legitimate expressions of policy grievance.
One thinks of the screaming audience members carried out of Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court confirmation hearing. Or the routine shout-downs of speakers on campuses. After the last presidential election, the advance guard of the resistance sat during rush hour in the middle of intersections. Members of Congress routinely throw tantrums now, as in the Peter Strzok hearing. Seen a White House press briefing lately?
Sports, most of the time, doesn't put up with this stuff.
The famous anti-umpire tirades of baseball managers Earl Weaver and Billy Martin make Serena Williams look like Little Bo-Peep. But in baseball you know you will get thrown out, and the game goes on.
In basketball, you'll get hit with a technical foul and ejected if you persist.
Soccer imposes yellow-card warnings and then a red-card exile from the playing field.
The game is bigger than the grievance, which can get chewed over later.
Finally, there is football, whose rule book describes Ms. Williams's extended shutdown of her opponent in two words—"unsportsmanlike conduct."
A fine line exists between gamesmanship and unsportsmanlike conduct, and there was a time when everyone knew where that line was. It was an informal modus vivendi for intense competitions, and it worked. No longer.
Whether in real life, sports, entertainment or, heaven knows, our national politics, unsportsmanlike conduct and self-indulgence have become routine. The late Tom Wolfe called the 1970s the Me Decade. Today, we are living, nonstop, in the Me Minute.