Tennis: Foul-mouthed Illie Nastase hit by ITF expulsion

Britain's head coach Anne Keothavong gestures towards Romania's head coach Ilie Nastase during the Fed Cup Group II play-off yesterday. The veteran, who won the 1972 US Open and 1973 French Open, was removed from his duties after profanities against
Britain's head coach Anne Keothavong gestures towards Romania's head coach Ilie Nastase during the Fed Cup Group II play-off yesterday. The veteran, who won the 1972 US Open and 1973 French Open, was removed from his duties after profanities against an umpire as well as members of the British side.PHOTO: REUTERS

Former star taken off court during Fed Cup tie, also censured for remark about Serena

CONSTANTA (Romania) • Ilie Nastase, Romania's Fed Cup captain, was expelled by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) for "serious misconduct", after he forced their semi-final against Britain to be suspended after launching a foul-mouthed tirade, being escorted off court and leaving Johanna Konta visibly upset.

With Konta leading Romania's Sorana Cirstea 6-2, 1-2 in the second rubber in Constanta, Nastase became embroiled in a row apparently about noise from the crowd.

He was reportedly heard to say to the umpire: "What's your f***king problem?" He then appeared to call the Britain captain, Anne Keothavong, and Konta "f***ing b****es".

Nastase was sent off the court by the tie referee, Andreas Egli, and, after taking a seat in the stands, was then escorted back to the locker room.

Konta was visibly upset, however, and, after playing the next game in tears and dropping serve, the players left the court.

After the players returned, Konta fought back from 3-1 down in the second set, reeling off five consecutive games to win 6-2, 6-3 and level the tie.

"His (Nastase's) accreditation was removed and he will play no further part in the tie," said the ITF.

Earlier yesterday, Nastase was also involved in an astonishing rant at British journalist Eleanor Crooks, calling her "stupid" for reporting his apparently racist comment about Serena Williams' pregnancy.

The 70-year-old was unhappy after his remarks about the American's baby, which is due in the autumn, were reported. "Let's see what colour it has. Chocolate with milk?" he was heard to say in Romanian on Friday.

Said Crooks: "He repeatedly called me stupid, asked me why what he said was racist. 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."

Nastase told Romanian television news channel Digi24 that his remark was not racist and that he has a very good relationship with Williams.

"This was a joke," he said. "If someone didn't understand it, they lack humour... they have their own humour and we have our humour."

The ITF said it did not tolerate discriminatory and offensive language: "We are aware of alleged comments made by Ilie Nastase and have begun an immediate investigation so that we have the full facts of the situation before taking further and appropriate action."

Nastase, who had a reputation as a playboy during and after his playing career, also clearly made Keothavong feel uncomfortable with a number of inappropriate remarks.

He asked for her room number during the official dinner on Thursday and then repeated the request when the captains posed together for official photographs after Friday's draw, while putting his arm around Keothavong's shoulder.

Later, Nastase said to Keothavong, who is married and 18 weeks pregnant with her second child: "We keep being attracted."

At the Monte Carlo Masters yesterday, fourth seed Rafael Nadal beat David Goffin of Belgium 6-3,6-1 to enter the final, where the Spaniard will play compatriot Albert Ramos-Vinolas, who dispatched Lucas Pouille 6-3, 5-7, 6-1.

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 23, 2017, with the headline 'Foul-mouthed Nastase hit by ITF expulsion'. Print Edition | Subscribe