Ilie Nastase could be facing a lifetime ban after his conduct in the Federation Cup tie against Great Britain in Romania.
The Romanian had already courted controversy before the tie began, as at the draw he was heard to make racist comments about Serena Williams’ unborn child.
This was reported by the media who had heard his remarks (made in Romanian).
Nastase then went on a “rampage” to find British journalists. He could only find one at the time, Press Association journalist Eleanor Crooks.
According to Crooks (and other non-British journalists who were in the same room) the Romanian captain called Crooks “stupid” several times.
In addition, at the official dinner on the Thursday and again at the Friday press conference, Nastase asked GB Captain Anne Keothavong for her room number.
The first rubber of the tie was uneventful, as Simona Halep defeated Heather Watson in straight sets.
It was during the second rubber that things turned nasty. Umpire Jaume Campistol warned the Romanian crowd that they would be docked points if they didn’t respect the players.
The crowd were calling “out” during rallies. Nastase turned on the umpire and reportedly used the F-word towards him.
He then turned on the Brits. He appeared to call both Keothavong and Johanna Konta “….ing bitches.” At this point he was made to leave the courtside.
The crowd then started repeating what had been said by Nastase as the rubber turned ugly.
Konta was visibly upset by the tirade and lost serve. The match was suspended as the Brit was in tears. Nastase, by this time, was being escorted from the arena.
The 70-year-old has seen his accreditation removed for the remainder of the tie. He can no longer be anywhere near the arena.
As he was escorted away, he was again reportedly using the F-word to everyone.
The ITF had already launched an investigation against the Romanian captain for the comments he made about Williams’ baby.
It didn’t end there, as Nastase showed up again on Sunday. He left shortly thereafter on his own, without too much altercation.
Unbelievable, Nastase has just walked in and gone into the VIP lounge
— Eleanor Crooks (@EleanorcrooksPA) April 23, 2017
He then gave flowers to each member of the British team in an apparent apology.
Flowers from Nastase to each of the British team rounds off the weekend. Or at least we think it does.
— Russell Fuller (@russellcfuller) April 23, 2017
Nastase could face a lifetime ban for his conduct throughout this tie. The ITF released the following statement about his current ban and said that any future potential ban will not be commented on while the investigation is ongoing.
The ITF has released this statement regarding the provisional suspension of Ilie Nastase pic.twitter.com/Xf9R0PSi4D
— ITF (@ITF_Tennis) April 23, 2017
It is not the first time the Romanian has been banned. In 1994 Nastase had a run in at a Davis Cup tie in South Africa, meaning he was banned for the next tie, which happened to be against Great Britain.
Behavior like this cannot be condoned, the ITF have to do something to stop this. The conduct of the Romanian captain is not suitable for any tennis match, no matter who is involved or why.