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Tennis great Ilie Nastase starts new career as Czech diplomat

Ilie Nastase is taking on a new role as a diplomat for the Czech Republic.

The Romanian tennis great has been banned by the International Tennis Federation for two years because of his foul-mouthed comments and bad behaviour as Romania's Fed Cup captain.

But Czech foreign minister Lubomir Zaoralek said Nastase has agreed to become the Czech Republic's new honorary consul in Romania.

Nastase said: "It's a great honour."

Mr Zaoralek said he trusts Nastase to behave in his new diplomatic role.

Nastase will be based in the Black Sea port of Constanta.

"My country didn't give me this chance but you gave me this chance and I appreciate it," he said.

He will have time to focus on his new job - as well as the ITF ban, the 1973 French Open champion will not be able to work in an official tennis capacity for a further two years, until 2021.

He was provisionally suspended in April after he speculated about the skin colour of the baby Serena Williams was expecting, and for outbursts during Fed Cup matches against Britain when he hurled abuse at opposing player Johanna Konta.

He also made advances of a sexual nature towards Britain captain Anne Keothavong.

Nastase, a former top-ranked player, was barred from the French Open and was not invited to the Royal Box at Wimbledon, where he was a two-time finalist.

Mr Zaoralek, who said he is a tennis fan, insisted: "I trust Mr Nastase. (In diplomacy) we have to weigh our words, and I think Mr Nastase is fully aware of that.

"I am sure that his transfer from sports to diplomacy will be successful because I can see him as a person who realises the responsibility he has in the new function."

AP

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