Ilie Nastase, the captain of Romania’s Fed Cup team, has been provisionally suspended from the competition for abusing players and the umpire during the playoff match against Britain.
The International Tennis Federation, which organizes the Fed Cup, said Sunday that Nastase “may not participate in the Fed Cup in any capacity with immediate effect.”
The 70-year-old Nastase was heard hurling expletives at British player Johanna Konta, Britain captain Anne Keothavong and the umpire during Konta’s match against Romania’s Sorana Cirstea on Saturday. Nastase was sent off the court by referee Andreas Egli and, after taking a seat in the stands, was then sent back to the locker room.
Nastase, a former world No. 1 in the 1970s, also publicly hurled insults at a British journalist in Constanta on Saturday, a day after apparently making racially offensive comments about Serena Williams’ pregnancy.
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ITF president David Haggerty condemned Nastase for his “unacceptable behaviour.”
With Britain’s Johanna Konta leading Sorana Cirstea 6-2, 1-2, Nastase became embroiled in a row apparently about noise from the crowd. He was heard to hurl expletives at Konta, Britain captain Anne Keothavong, and the umpire.
Nastase was sent off the court by referee Andreas Egli and, after taking a seat in the stands, was then escorted back to the locker room.
The ITF said Egli asked Nastase to leave the court “for unsportsmanlike conduct, having already received two official warnings. Mr. Nastase was also removed from the grounds due to his serious misconduct.” Nastase’s accreditation was removed and the ITF’s adjudication panel will now decide on any sanctions.
The match between Konta and Cirstea resumed, and the British player won five successive games to win 6-2, 6-3 and level the World Group II playoff at 1-1.
In incidents away from the court on Saturday, Britain’s Press Association said journalist Eleanor Crooks was verbally insulted by Nastase for reporting his comments about Williams. Nastase told Crooks: “Why did you write that? You’re stupid, you’re stupid.”
The tirade went on for more than two minutes, the news agency said.
“He repeatedly called me stupid, asked me why what he said was racist,” Crooks said. “I explained we simply reported what he said and that it was unnecessary to make such a comment about colour. He said the English were out to get him and called me stupid a few more times.
“Fortunately he was across the other side of the room from me and there were other journalists around so it was unpleasant rather than threatening. But it is certainly not the behaviour you would expect of someone in his position and wholly unnecessary, especially given he did not dispute the accuracy of what was reported.”
On Friday, Nastase was asked about Williams pregancy and he reportedly replied: “Let’s see what colour it has. Chocolate with milk?”
Nastase, nicknamed “Nasty” in his playing days, won two Grand Slam singles titles and was world No. 1 in the 1970s. He retired as a player in 1985 and was inducted in the tennis hall of fame in 1991.