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Nastase makes U-turn and says sorry after Fed Cup controversy

 

By Eleanor Crooks

Ilie Nastase has issued an apology for his conduct during Romania's fiery Fed Cup tie against Great Britain last weekend.

The 70-year-old former World No.1 has been provisionally suspended by the International Tennis Federation after a series of incidents in Constanta.

Nastase was overheard making an apparently racist comment about Serena Williams' unborn baby at a press conference last Friday as well as asking GB captain Anne Keothavong for her hotel room number.

During the first day of the tie on Saturday, Nastase then verbally abused chair umpire Jaume Campistol and tie referee Andreas Egli before calling Keothavong and British No.1 Johanna Konta "f*****g b*****s" as he was sent from the court.

The two-time Grand Slam champion was escorted from the venue and banned from the rest of the tie but he defied that by briefly returning the following day and had refused to apologise, saying he had no regrets.

However, Nastase, who is waiting to find out his sanction from the ITF, has now changed tack, albeit while still claiming the events have been exaggerated.

In a statement on his Facebook page, which is unverified, Nastase said: "The last few days have been difficult. My words during the Fed Cup have rightfully caused controversy and upset the audience, press and, most painfully, the tennis world.

"I will not attempt to defend my words, but I can assure you they only stemmed from my genuine desire to defend the Romanian team and Romanian tennis.

"I am fully aware that nothing can truly excuse my statements. Please accept my apologies, for whatever they may be worth."

Nastase, though, again criticised Konta for complaining about crowd noise during her match against Sorana Cirstea. He said: "What happened in Constanta has been exaggerated. Joanna (sic) Konta had no right to speak to the chairman (umpire), the team captain is the only one who can do this."

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