Friday 15 December 2017

'I don't need this bullsh*t' - Romania Fed Cup captain Ilie Nastase has no regrets over shameful comments

Romanian head coach Ilie Nastase. Photo: REUTERS
Romanian head coach Ilie Nastase. Photo: REUTERS

Eleanor Crooks

Ilie Nastase was unrepentant about his Fed Cup expulsion and insisted he does not care what punishment he is given.

The Romania Fed Cup captain was thrown out of the World Group II play-off against Great Britain on Saturday after swearing at officials, GB captain Anne Keothavong and world number seven Johanna Konta.

Nastase was heard to call Keothavong and Konta "f***ing bitches" after the British team complained about calls from the crowd during points.

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 bitch.

"She kept trying to keep the crowd quiet - but it's not an opera it's a game.

"I don't need this bullsh*t. I'm 70 years old. I don't even get paid for being team captain. I don't give a sh*t if they fine me or don't let me sit in the captain's chair.

"Remember I was world number one. If you throw someone out who was a world number one, it's not good for tennis."

Nastase has been provisionally suspended from all ITF events pending a full investigation and is sure to face severe punishment.

Not that he paid attention to his ban from the tie, brazenly walking through the front door of Tenis Club IDU on Sunday shortly after Romania had clinched victory and heading for the VIP lounge.

Nastase left an hour later after reportedly sending flowers for the British team and Keothavong to their locker room.

Nastase was already being investigated by the ITF for an apparently racist remark about Serena Williams' unborn baby on Friday, the two-time grand slam champion having said: "Let's see what colour it has. Chocolate with milk?"

He refused to apologise for that, too, saying: "I don't know what all the fuss is about."

Fired up by the situation, Romania gleefully celebrated their victory after Simona Halep defeated a subdued Konta 6-1 6-3 and Irina-Camelia Begu edged out Heather Watson 6-4 7-5.

The home team felt aggrieved that Konta had been allowed to stop her match against Sorana Cirstea on Saturday a game after Nastase's foul-mouthed tirade.

Konta became tearful after experiencing abuse from the crowd and insisted the threat she felt had not been exaggerated, as claimed by Cirstea and her team-mates.

"With all due respect to Sorana, she was not in my shoes on that end of the court being verbally threatened," said Konta.

"Any abuse is not all right - whether it's on social media - but when it's a couple of metres away from you, screaming at you, I think that's a different ball game."

The defeat means Britain's wait to reach the elite level of the competition will continue into a 25th year as they again contemplate the dreaded Europe/Africa Zone.

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