Serena Williams on Monday called the alleged comments about her unborn child made by former world No. 1 Ilie Nastase “racist” and applauded the International Tennis Federation (ITF) for launching a probe into the remarks. Former tennis bad boy Nastase, who won two Grand Slam titles in the 1970s, was quoted by Romanian and some British media as saying in response to William’s pregnancy announcement: “Let’s see what colour it has. Chocolate with milk?” “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,” she wrote on her Instagram account. “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. “Yes, we have broken down so many barriers – however there are a plethora more to go. This or anything else will not stop me from pouring love, light and positivity into everything that I do. I will continue to take a lead and stand up for what’s right.” Williams added that she was not intimidated by Nastase who also verbally abused Britain’s Johanna Konta and Anne Keothavong during Saturday’s Fed Cup matches between England and Romania, calling the pair “f****** b******”. “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 will rise,” Serena wrote. It would not be the first time Williams has been stung by racism as a player. The world No. 1 boycotted the Indian Wells tournament for 14 years after she and sister Venus and her family claimed they were victims of racial taunts while Serena played in the 2001 final. Nastase, 70, has been provisionally banned from all International Tennis Federation (ITF) events following his verbal abuse of British players last weekend in his role as the Romanian Fed Cup captain.
ITF begins probe
Williams thanked ITF and said it would have her full support as it investigated the matter. “(The investigation) is ongoing. At this point, one of the principles that is important is that we want a rigorous process that is fair,” ITF president David Haggerty said on Monday. “We will also hear Nastase’s side of the argument. It will be a thorough process conducted in an efficient manner. I do not think you will be hearing any final decisions in the next two weeks.” British captain Anne Keothavong, who said she was made to feel “uncomfortable” by comments made by Nastase at the official pre-match dinner, said the abuse during play had been unacceptable. “We expected a patriotic crowd for the Romanian team but we don’t expect abusive language to be used … what he said directed to both Johanna (Konta) and myself is … language that is not appropriate for anyone to speak to any other human,” she said. Konta was reduced to tears at one stage. — Agencies