BY MICHELLE KAUFMAN
Romanian tennis legend and Fed Cup captain Ilie “Nasty” Nastase is in hot water after allegedly making a racist comment about Serena Williams’ unborn baby, and the next day getting tossed from a Fed Cup match against Great Britain for yelling obscenities from his courtside seat.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has launched an investigation into Nastase’s behavior.
At the Fed Cup draw in Constanta on April 21, the 70-year-old former world No. 1 was heard speaking in Romanian about Williams’ baby.
“Let’s see what color it has. Chocolate with milk?” he was quoted as saying.
Williams, who confirmed her pregnancy through a spokesperson last week, is engaged to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, who is White. On Monday, she posted a photo on Instagram with a note she penned to her unborn child.
“The ITF does not tolerate discriminatory and offensive language and behavior of any kind,” the Federation said in a statement. “We are aware of alleged comments made by Romanian Captain Ilie Nastase and have begun an immediate investigation so that we have the full facts of the situation before taking further and appropriate action.”
By Sunday, the ITF had slapped Nastase with a provisional suspension after he asked British captain Anne Keothavong for her hotel room number during a pre-match dinner, and had a meltdown during the match during which he shouted profanities at the chair umpire, at British player Johanna Konta (the recent Miami Open champion) and Keothavong, calling them an expletive. Kontaq was in tears when the umpire briefly suspended play to deal with Nastase.
An ITF statement read: “The ITF’s Internal Adjudication Panel has issued Ilie Nastase with a provisional suspension under the Fed Cup regulations for a breach of the Fed Cup welfare policy at the tie in Constanta.”
(Williams, a 23-time major tennis champion, wrote on Instagram on Monday: “It disappoints me to know we live in a society where people like Ilie Nastase can make such racist comments towards myself and (my) unborn child.”)