Ilie Nastase: ITF reduces ban for tirade at Fed Cup tie against Great Britain
Ex-Romania captain Ilie Nastase’s ban for “racially insensitive comments” and “sexual harassment” during a Fed Cup tie has been reduced on appeal but his fine has been doubled.
The 71-year-old insulted Britain’s Johanna Konta and Anne Keothavong and made a derogatory comment about Serena Williams’ then unborn child last April.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) said a ban was “appropriate” but cut it by eight months, so he can attend events from 23 April 2018 and work at them from 23 April 2020.
The ITF also increased Nastase’s fine from $10,000 to $20,000.
But the former world number one can still be involved in Grand Slam events and ATP or WTA Tour events as they fall outside ITF jurisdiction.
In its conclusions, the ITF said it did not want to rank each of Nastase’s offences against one another in assigning a sanction for each.
But it added: “Racially insensitive comments and sexual harassment are inappropriate and should not be tolerated.”
The Lawn Tennis Association said both it and the GB Fed Cup team welcomed the appeal verdict.
“Fair play and treating people equally must always be paramount in upholding the integrity of sport,” it said in a statement.
The background – what did Nastase do?
Nastase – who was subsequently replaced as Romania’s Fed Cup captain – said his comments at the tie in Bucharest were intended as a joke and had been misinterpreted.
During the April fixture, Romanian player Simona Halep was answering a question in English about former world number one Williams and her pregnancy. Nastase then turned to one of his other team members and added in Romanian: “Let’s see what colour it has. Chocolate with milk?”
Nastase also put his arm tightly around Keothavong and asked for her room number, in earshot of the watching media.
The following day before play had started, Nastase insulted a British journalist over their reporting of his comments about Williams, calling the Press Association’s tennis correspondent Eleanor Crooks “stupid”.
Later, after Konta and Keothavong complained of calling out from the crowd in the World Group II play-off tie in Constanta, Nastase was involved in a discussion with officials in which he used foul and abusive language.
He then insulted both Konta and Keothavong multiple times, as well as swearing at them. Nastase was sent off after the incident that left Konta in tears and her match suspended. Romania went on to win the play-off.