Abusive Ilie Nastase banned as Fed Cup boils over

  • AFP

    AFP | Paris

    April 23, 2017 | 01:08 PM
Nastase, Fed Cup, Serena Williams, Anne Keothavong, Johanna Konta

Romanian tennis legend Ilie Nastase (R) (Photo: AFP)

Romanian tennis legend Ilie Nastase was sensationally kicked out of the Fed Cup after a foul-mouthed rant compounded his controversial racial slur over Serena Williams's unborn baby.

The 70-year-old captain of Romania's Fed Cup team was escorted from the Constanta venue where a World Group play-off was taking place against Britain after swearing at the umpire, the British skipper and a visiting player who was even reduced to tears.

He was heard to call pregnant captain Anne Keothavong and national number one Johanna Konta “f****** b******”.

The day before, Nastase, a former world number one and two-time Grand Slam title winner, was overheard making derogatory remarks about US superstar Serena Williams's pregnancy.

“Let's see what colour it (the baby) has. Chocolate with milk?,” he said in Romanian, remarks then reported widely internationally, including by a British female reporter who he then berated, describing her as “stupid” and “ugly”.

The controversy in Romania overshadowed what was meant to be the weekend's main Fed Cup business -- the semi-finals where Belarus and Switzerland are locked at 1-1 while the United States are also level against defending champions Czech Republic.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) said that Nastase had been expelled from the tie against Britain for “serious misconduct” and hinted at further punishment.

After his slur against Williams, who will give birth in September, Nastase was still raging on Saturday.

He was warned twice by the umpire for unsportsmanlike conduct as Konta took on Sorana Cirstea in the day's second rubber.
Nastase screamed at the umpire: “It's not the opera, what's your fucking problem?”

Konta broke down in tears after the abuse and the match was held up for 25 minutes before Nastase was banished to the stands and then escorted out of the venue by burly security guards.

“His accreditation was removed and he will play no further part in the tie,” said the ITF in a statement.

“The ITF has launched an investigation into this matter as well as previous comments made by Mr Nastase during the week. The ITF does not tolerate discriminatory and offensive language and behaviour of any kind.”

'Nastase is caring'

Konta went on to beat Cirstea to level the tie at 1-1 after Simona Halep had seen off Heather Watson.

“The abusive language of everybody who was involved snowballed,” said Konta.
Keothavong, who was reportedly propositioned by Nastase despite being pregnant and married, said she was stunned by his behaviour.

“What Nastase said to me and Johanna is language that is not appropriate for anyone to speak to any other human,” she told fedcup.com.
However, Cirstea leapt to the defence of Nastase and the crowd.

“The supervisor told me he stopped play because she (Konta) was crying. The Romanian public are quite fair and did not do anything out of the ordinary,” she said.

“It was great to have Nastase's experience on the bench...it was a nice surprise to see that he is very human and caring.”
She added: “I have played all over the world and I have been called 'bitch', 'arsehole', 'idiot', got all kinds of signs. But I never cried and left the court.”

The semi-finals were reduced to a sideshow by the Nastase controversy.

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