Belfast Telegraph

An unrepentant Nastase feels the wrath of angry Serena


By Mark Stanforth

Serena Williams has launched a stinging attack on Ilie Nastase, accusing the Romanian of racially abusing her and her unborn baby and hurling sexist abuse at fellow female tennis players.

The American has responded publicly for the first time to the controversy which has erupted over the Romania Fed Cup team captain's astonishing behaviour at his side's match with Great Britain last weekend.

Nastase was overheard at Friday's press conference saying about Williams' unborn baby, "Let's see what colour it has. Chocolate with milk?''

He had already asked British team captain Anne Keothavong for her room number, while, when play got under way in Constanta on Saturday, Nastase was heard to call Keothavong and British number one Johanna Konta ''f****** b*****s'' in a rant which has led to his provisional suspension by the International Tennis Federation.

Writing on Instagram, Williams (below) said: "It disappoints me to know we live in a society which people like Ilie Nastase can make such racist comments towards myself and unborn child, and sexist comments against my peers."

Williams, who returned to the World No.1 spot yesterday, despite not having played since cruising to the Australian Open title nearly three months ago, announced last week that she was expecting a baby in the autumn.

She added in her post: "I have said it once and I'll say it again, this world has come so far but yet we have so much further to go. Yes, we have broken down so many barriers - however there are a plethora more to go. This or anything else will not stop me from pouring love, light and positivity into everything that I do. I will continue to take a lead and stand up for what's right.

"I am not afraid unlike you. You see, I am no coward. Does my sassiness upset you? Why are you beset with gloom?

"You may shoot me with your words... you may try to kill me with your hatefulness, but still like air, I rise.

"I humbly thank the ITF for any consideration given to all the facts in this case. They will have my full support."

Nastase has remained unrepentant about his conduct, despite the All England Club threatening a Royal Box ban and fellow Romanian sports hero Nadia Comaneci branding his comments "ugly''.

Romanian website ProSport quoted the 70-year-old on Monday evening responding to a question from a local journalist about whether he contacted any British team members in the aftermath of his outburst.

It quoted Nastase answering: "No, I did not try (to contact them). Well, what do I do with them? One (Keothavong) is pregnant with her second child and the other (Konta) is busy. I have nothing to do with them.''

The All England Club is now set to block the two-time finalist's customary invitation to the Royal Box, saying in a statement that a "range of factors" would be taken into account, "including any suspensions".

His long-time friend, gymnastics great Comaneci, said his latest comments had gone too far.

She said: "Ilie has been my friend for many years, but I cannot condone or defend his recent ugly and very offensive remarks.

"I would never condone any kind of sexist comments.''

Belfast Telegraph


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