Hall Of Famer Ilie Nastase Suspended From Tennis For Sexist And Racist Comments

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Ilie Nastase is best known as a former world No. 1 who won the U.S. Open in 1972 and rolled through the 1973 French Open without dropping a set, becoming the first man to complete that feat. He is now the captain of Romania’s Fed Cup team, and made some much uglier additions to his résumé at a competition this past weekend.

  • At a press conference on Friday, Nastase crudely speculated about Serena Williams’s pregnancy. “Let’s see what color it has. Chocolate with milk?” he said aloud in Romanian, while top Romanian player Simona Halep was answering a routine question about Williams, whose fiancé, Alexis Ohanian, is white.
  • Also on Friday, in full view of cameras—during a pose for photos, in fact—he embraced Anne Keothavong, Great Britain’s captain, and asked for her hotel room number. Later Nastase reportedly told her, “We keep being attracted.” Keothavong is married and 18 weeks pregnant with her second child.
  • On Saturday, Nastase, still allowed to continue in his capacity as captain despite all of the above, began verbally abusing the competition during a match between Romania’s Sorana Cirstea and Great Britain’s top player, Johanna Konta. After Konta and Keothavong complained to officials about noise from the crowd, Nastase thrust himself into the dispute, and when asked by the umpire to calm down, said, “It’s not the opera. What’s your fucking problem?” He then called both Keothavong and Konta “fucking bitches.” Nastase was removed from the court and play was suspended.
  • In a separate incident on Saturday, Nastase abused journalist Eleanor Crooks for accurately reporting his comments about Serena Williams. “Why did you write that? You’re stupid, you’re stupid,” he said, during a two-minute tirade.

The International Tennis Federation claims it began investigating Nastase after his Williams comments, and has provisionally suspended Nastase from all events.

Nastase, awaiting punishment, has only this to say, per PA Sport:

I don’t regret it and they can send me to prison if they want - I don’t care. I was just trying to promote the interest of my girl. The English player just stormed off without even asking permission to leave the court and I admit that’s when I called her a bitch. She kept trying to keep the crowd quiet - but it’s not an opera, it’s a game. I don’t need this bullshit. I’m 70 years old. I don’t even get paid for being team captain. I don’t give a shit if they fine me or don’t let me sit in the captain’s chair.


It’s almost as if it’s a terrible idea to put 70-year-old sexual harassers in positions of power, or something.