Nastase apologises over Serena comments

Romanian Fed Cup captain Ilie Nastase has apologised for the comments he made about Serena Williams' unborn child, although he vowed to quit tennis if he is banned.

The former two-time Grand Slam champion was accused of racism – including by Williams herself – after he was overheard asking if her child would be "chocolate with milk".

Nastase apologised in a Facebook post on Friday, saying his remarks were off the cuff.

"At the press conference I was asked what opinion I had about Serena being pregnant. I then found out for the first time (she was pregnant) and my reaction was spontaneous," he said.

Nastase also said Williams was "one of the greatest players of all times and I know how much work goes into achieving these results."

But the 70-year-old later spoke to BBC Sport, and remained adamant his comments were not racist.

"For me it's not racial. Somebody in England thinks it is," he said.

"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 remains under investigation by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) over those remarks, and his outburst the following day that left Britain's Johanna Konta in tears.

Referring to that incident, Nastase admitted he acted in the heat of the moment, but said he was a member of the crowd at the time – not a captain – after being sent off by the umpire.

"I was not on the court, I have to remind you that. I was thrown out of the game. I said that from the crowd. I wasn't on the court, there is a difference. I'm not anymore the coach of the team.

"I was upset when they throw me out of the court. Then when he said to leave the stadium also then I was upset because the girls they said they didn't want me in the stands anymore. So then I scream at her and the coach."

Asked if he regretted his remarks, he said: "Of course but just understand, I was upset. Of course I would not say that if I was not upset."

Nastase has been provisionally suspended pending the result of the ITF's investigation, meaning he "may not participate in the Fed Cup in any capacity with immediate effect".

He remains defiant, however.

"If I am not allowed to go and sit in that chair, I'm not going to go. I've got other things," he said.

"I've a lot of businesses. I just said the same to the [Romanian] federation because the girls, they want me in the chair.

"I'm 71 years old. I was number one in the world – I want to see how many number ones go to watch a girls' match. I want to see that person. I don't get money, I don't get anything.

"How many players would do that? And they want to suspend me."

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