Serena Williams has responded to comments made by Ilie Nastase regarding her pregnancy.
“It disappoints me to know we live in a society where people like Ilie Nastase can make such racist comments towards myself and unborn child, and sexist comments against my peers,” Williams wrote in an Instagram post.
“I have said it once and I’ll say it again, this world has come so far but yet we have so much further to go….
“I am not afraid unlike you. You see, I am no coward. Does my sassiness upset you? Why are you beset with gloom? You may shoot me with your words … you may try to kill me with your hatefulness, but still like air, I rise.”
Meanwhile, Nastase was unrepentant after being suspended from the Fed Cup for abusing the British team and the referee in a playoff.
Nastase, the Romania captain, also didn’t believe that his remarks about the unborn child of Williams were racist.
“I want to know what word I used is racist?” he asked the Associated Press by phone on Monday from Budapest, Hungary. He added he was a friend of Williams.
ESPN had reported that Nastase was heard to say, “Let’s see what colour it has. Chocolate with milk?” at a news conference on Friday in Romania.
Williams announced last week she is expecting her first child with fiancé Alexis Ohanian, who is white.
The International Tennis Federation provisionally suspended Nastase from the Fed Cup on Sunday, a day after he hurled expletives at British player Johanna Konta, Britain captain Anne Keothavong and the umpire.
The referee ejected Nastase from the tie.
“Yes, I lost my temper,” he said by phone.
But he didn’t believe his punishment was proportional.
“It was crazy, it was crazy,” he added.
Nastase earned the nickname “Nasty” for his on-court outbursts and gamesmanship in his playing heyday in the 1970s. But it also described his game, which earned him seven Grand Slam titles, two in singles, and more than 100 ATP titles. He’s in the tennis hall of fame.
He said on Monday he’s been banned from Wimbledon’s Royal Box, but that wasn’t confirmed by Wimbledon.
The All England club, where he was a singles finalist twice, said in a statement that guests were invited at its discretion, and suspensions were taken into account.
Reactions in Romania to Nastase’s outburst have been mixed.
George Cosac, the chairman of the Romanian Tennis Federation, defended Nastase by suggesting he was picked on by the British officials.
Ion Tiriac, a businessman and Nastase’s old doubles partner, also stood by him, criticizing Konta for walking off the court.
Nastase, also a former Davis Cup captain, suggested he was no longer a relevant figure in tennis.
“I am 71 years old” — though he does not turn that age until July — “I am no longer a sportsman,” he said.