Tennis: Ilie Nastase banned by ITF over Fed Cup tirade

Romania's Fed Cup team captain Ilie Nastase (centre) argues with an ITF official during the Fed Cup World Group II playoff tie between Romania and Britain in Constanta, Romania, on April 22, 2017.
Romania's Fed Cup team captain Ilie Nastase (centre) argues with an ITF official during the Fed Cup World Group II playoff tie between Romania and Britain in Constanta, Romania, on April 22, 2017.PHOTO: EPA

Paris (AFP) - The International Tennis Federation on Friday banned and fined Ilie Nastase over derogatory comments about Serena Williams and a foul-mouthed Fed Cup tirade.

The Romanian tennis great was in the ITF dock for his abusive behaviour as Romania's Fed Cup captain in a tie with Britain in Bucharest in April.

The two-time Grand Slam winner is banned from all ITF competitions until December 2020, excluded from all ITF competitions excluding Grand Slams until December 2018, and fined US$10,000 (S$13,650).

The controversial 71-year-old was sensationally kicked out of the Fed Cup tie in the Romanian capital on the second day for his irrational conduct, escorted from the court by security staff.

On the opening day he was overheard making derogatory remarks about US superstar Serena Williams's pregnancy.

"Let's see what colour it (the baby) has. Chocolate with milk?," he said in Romanian, remarks then reported widely internationally, including by a British female reporter who he then berated, describing her as "stupid" and "ugly".

He also asked British captain Anne Keothavong for her hotel room number.

On the Saturday he was escorted from the Constanta venue after swearing at the umpire as well as the British skipper and a visiting player.

He was heard to call pregnant captain Keothavong and British No. 1 Johanna Konta "f***king b******".

The ITF in a statement described Nastase's comment about Williams as "highly inappropriate and racially insensitive".

It reported how "Mr Nastase made advances of a sexual nature towards Anne Keothavong, the Captain of the Great Britain team".

The ITF judgment highlighted his "abusive and threatening comments to a member of the accredited press, match officials and to members of the Great Britain team".

The statement added that the disgraced Fed Cup skipper had "refused to leave the court and deliberately interfered with the opposing team".

Nastase, who was barred from the Royal Box at Wimbledon, and the Romanian Tennis Federation have 21 days to appeal.

Days after his Fed Cup meltdown the eccentric Nastase apologised for his remarks about Williams but said his behaviour at the tie "has been exaggerated by all".