Nasty Nastase? Romania’s Fed Cup captain barred after mocking Serena Williams with ‘racist comment’
Nastase made the comments at a press conference on Friday at which player Simona Halep answered questions from the press in English regarding Williams’ pregnancy. After an answer the 70-year-old was heard saying to a team member in Romanian "Let's see what colour it has. Chocolate with milk?" reported the BBC.
In a statement to the BBC the International Tennis Federation (ITF) said they were aware of the comments and would investigate.
Could being the greatest tennis player of all time have helped Serena Williams win the Australian Open? https://t.co/BlVsf2zehO— Kashana (@kashanacauley) April 22, 2017
The following day Nastase ranted at a journalist who questioned him regarding the comments, calling her “stupid,”The Guardian reported. “He then called me ugly off camera, just for good measure,” Eleanor Crooks said. “I’m glad the security were there to stop him getting any closer.”
At the same news conference, Nastase was heard asking British captain Anne Keothavong (33) for her room number, telling her, “We keep being attracted.”
On Saturday, Nastase was banned from the tournament following an incident at a game between Romania’s Sorana Cirstea and Britain’s Johanna Konta. Nastase complained about noise from the crowd before calling Konta and captain Keothavong, who was also present, “a bitch” and swearing profusely.
He returned to his seat following the incident before being escorted back to the locker room. In a statement the ITF said Nastase was removed from the grounds and his credentials removed following his “serious misconduct.”
The ITF has issued the following statement regarding Ilie Nastase pic.twitter.com/yiYP1DycCz— ITF (@ITF_Tennis) April 22, 2017
A formal investigation is under way, according to the ITF, who said he will play no further part in the tournament.
Soon after his removal, the game resumed. Konta broke into tears as it progressed before the umpire suspended play. When it resumed, she went on to win.