Ilie Nastase threatens to quit tennis if banned for offensive comments

The Romania Fed Cup captain apologised for racist comments about Serena Williams' unborn baby

BY Sinéad Farrell 11:04 Saturday 29 April 2017, 11:04 29 Apr 2017

Rebecca Naden/PA Wire/PA Images

Romania's Fed Cup captain says he will quit tennis if he is served a ban for making offensive comments about Serena Williams' unborn baby.

Ilie Nastase was heard making racist comments in relation to Williams' pregnancy, at a press conference ahead of the Fed Cup. A microphone picked him up as saying: "Let's see what colour it has. Chocolate with milk?"

His derogatory remarks are in relation to Williams' fiancee Alexis Ohanian, who is white.

Nastase has since apologised for his comments about Williams in a Facebook post, saying that last weekend was the first time he heard about her pregnancy, and described his reaction as 'spontaneous.'

"I am fully aware that nothing can truly excuse my statements – not the tension of a high-stakes game, not my traditionally irreverent attitude, not the unfortunate escalation of the situation. My life remains dedicated to tennis and its audiences, so please accept my apologies, for whatever they may be worth right now."

Speaking to BBC Sport however, Nastase insisted that his comments were not racial, and said he will consider quitting the sport if he receives a ban.

"For me it's not racial. Somebody in England thinks it is. English people considered it was racist and everybody picked it up like that."

"Romanians don't think it was a racial word. The only person who can get upset maybe is Serena, but not you people in England. Why does everybody else get upset? I don't understand. Whatever."

Nastase was involved in a few controversial incidents at the Fed Cup last weekend. After he was heard making racist remarks about Williams' pregnancy, his behaviour during a game caused it to be temporarily suspended.

Nastase was provisionally suspended by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) for verbally abusing an umpire and players from the opposing Great Britain team who complained about crowd noise.

In yesterday's Facebook post, he apologised for his behaviour during the game, but maintained that GB's Johanna Konta was wrong to try and speak to the chairman.

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