Ilie Nastase remained unrepentant about his conduct towards the British contingent at the Fed Cup, despite the All England Club threatening a Royal Box ban and fellow Romanian sports hero Nadia Comaneci branding his comments «ugly».
Romanian website ProSport quoted the 70-year-old Nastase on Monday evening responding to a question from a local journalist about whether he contacted any of the Great Britain team members in the wake of the weekend’s controversy.
It quoted Nastase answering: «No, I did not try (to contact them). Well, what do I do with them? One (Anne Keothavong) is pregnant with her second child and the other (Johanna Konta) is busy. I have nothing to do with them.»
Nastase is under provisional suspension by the International Tennis Federation over his tirades which marred Britain’s defeat to the Romanians in Constanta over the weekend.
- Read more
Wimbledon set to ban Nastase from Royal Box after Fed Cup abuse
The All England Club is now set to block the two-time finalist’s customary invitation to the Royal Box, saying in a statement that a «range of factors» would be taken into account, «including any suspensions.»
Nastase was expelled midway through the World Group II play-off match after swearing at officials, plus British team captain Keothavong and world number seven Konta.
Nastase was heard to call Keothavong and Konta «f****** b******» after the British team complained about calls from the crowd during points, while he also launched an astonishing rant at a Press Association journalist.
Afterwards, Konta’s opponent Sorana Cirstea instead accusing the Briton of «exaggerating» the incident by briefly walking off the court.
Johanna Konta recovers after Ilie Nastase controversy
The unsavoury incidents came on the back of the reporting of his apparently racist comment about Serena Williams’ unborn baby at Friday’s press conference and asking Keothavong for her room number.
Despite his outburst Nastase has received broad support in his homeland, although his long-time friend, gymnastics great Nadia Comaneci, said Nastase’s latest comments had gone too far.
Comaneci, the first gymnast to score a perfect 10 in competition at the 1976 Olympics, said: «Ilie has been my friend for many years, but I can not condone or defend his recent ugly and very offensive remarks.
«Of course Ilie is responsible for what comes out of his mouth, and I think it is important in sport that you keep the respect and good behaviour.
«I am a great supporter of women in sport and I would never condone any kind of sexist comments of this kind, whether they are from Ilie Nastase or anyone else.»
Comaneci had initially played down the significance of Nastase’s comments, saying: «Ilie is very patriotic and sometimes he says things that he doesn’t really mean.» But she is the first significant public figure in Romania to openly question Nastase’s outburst.
Despite awaiting punishment by the ITF, Nastase has remained defiant about his expulsion, and insisted he does not care what punishment he is given.
The 70-year-old told the Daily Mirror: «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 b****.»