23 Apr 2017

Fed Cup captain expelled from tie after second outburst

11:14 am on 23 April 2017

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has launched an investigation after Romania's home captain Ilie Nastase was sensationally thrown off the court, following his second indiscretion this week.

Romanian Fed Cup captain Ilie Nastase has been expelled from the Fed Cup tie with Britain.

Romanian Fed Cup captain Ilie Nastase has been expelled from the Fed Cup tie with Britain. Photo: AFP

It led to the suspension of Great Britain's Fed Cup play-off against Romania.

With Johanna Konta leading Sorana Cirstea 6-2 1-2 in the second rubber in Constanta, Nastase became embroiled in a row seemingly stemming from crowd noise.

The 70-year-old former world No.1 was reportedly heard to say to the umpire: "What's your f......ing problem?". He then appeared to call British captain Anne Keothavong and Konta "f......ing bitches".

Nastase was sent off the court by the referee and he's since been expelled from the Fed Cup tie.

Simona Halep, who had beaten Heather Watson in the opening rubber, explained to the crowd what had happened and appealed for calm before play briefly resumed.

But Konta was visibly upset and, after playing the next game in tears and dropping serve, the players left the court. Play resumed about 25 minutes later and the Briton won five straight games for a 6-2 6-3 victory to level the tie.

Cirstea later hit out at Konta, accusing her of having thin skin.

"I'm not happy," she said. "Johanna, speaking tennis wise, she was better than me today. My problem was, and I still do not understand, why the match was stopped at 2-1.

"I did not hear what Ilie said, I understand you take Ilie out, perfect. Then we play another game, I win it, and then suddenly you started crying and let's go off the court.

"I've played all over the world, they called me from gypsy to bitch to a......hole to idiot. They were doing like (mimes slitting throat) to me. I never cried and left the court, I stay there and I play."

Earlier, Nastase had launched into an astonishing rant at a British journalist, calling her stupid for reporting his comment about Serena Williams' pregnancy.

"Let's see what colour it has. Chocolate with milk?," he was heard to say on Friday.

"This was a joke," Nastase explained on Saturday. "If someone didn't understand it, they lack humour... they have their own humour and we have our humour."

On Saturday morning Nastase stormed into the media centre to seek out the British press.

Eleanor Crooks of the Press Association was the only member of the British media present.

"Why did you write that? You're stupid, you're stupid," he said to Crooks.

The tirade took place in front of Romanian media and, according to Crooks, lasted for more than two minutes.

"I explained we simply reported what he said and that it was unnecessary to make such a comment about colour," she said. "He said the English were out to get him. He did not dispute the accuracy of what was reported."

Williams announced on Wednesday she is expecting her first child with fiance Alexis Ohanian, who is white.

Nastase was not asked about Williams himself on Friday, but made the comment, in Romanian and clearly audible, to the other players while Romanian No.1 Simona Halep was answering a question about the 23-time grand slam singles champion.

The ITF confirmed on Saturday that it had launched an investigation into Nastase's alleged derogatory comment about Williams' unborn child as well as previous comments made by him during the week.

It is the second controversy caused by Nastase about Williams in a month.

In an interview with Romanian media, he made unsubstantiated allegations of doping by Williams based on her physique.