Ilie Nastase will not be invited into royal box at Wimbledon

Romanian accused of racist and sexist remarks, will not be invited this summer

Romania’s head coach Ilie Nastase was asked to leave the court for his behaviour during the FedCup play-off match against Britain last month. Photograph: Reuters

Romania’s head coach Ilie Nastase was asked to leave the court for his behaviour during the FedCup play-off match against Britain last month. Photograph: Reuters

 

Ilie Nastase will not be invited to the Royal Box at Wimbledon this year following his behaviour at last month’s Fed Cup tie against Britain.

Romania team captain Nastase, 70, was ejected from from the match in Constanta following a foul-mouthed tirade directed at his British counterpart Anne Keothavong and British number one Johanna Konta — one of a series of incidents for which he is awaiting sanction by the International Tennis Federation.

Nastase was also overheard making an apparently racist comment about Serena Williams’ unborn baby at a press conference.

The All England Club indicated last week that it would block the two-time finalist’s customary invitation to the Royal Box, and this was confirmed by chairman Philip Brook at the Wimbledon spring press conference on Wednesday.

Nastase last week apologised for his comments, having initially denied any wrongdoing: “In the last few days, my name and the unfortunate situation at the Romania vs England Fed Cup match were present in both the national and international press.

“I do not wish to deny the negative reactions I’ve received, but I would like to add a few words of my own to this matter now, after a period of reflection.

“I was five when I first picked up a racket. Since then, tennis has been more than a sport or a profession for me. Tennis has been, and is, my life, and for tennis I have sacrificed almost everything, personal or professional.

“Unfortunately, now, in my 70s, I have somehow managed to do something I have never wanted or even imagined: to feel tennis moving further away from me.

“The last few days have been difficult for me. My words during the Fed Cup have rightfully caused controversy and upset the audience, the press and, most painfully for me, the tennis world.

“I will not attempt to defend my words, but I can assure you they only stemmed from my genuine desire to defend the Romanian team and Romanian tennis.

“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.”

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