Ahead of Wimbledon 2017, it has been announced that Ilie Nastase will not be invited into the Royal Box following his recent comments about Serena Williams and the ugly scenes he was involved in at Romania’s Fed Cup tie with Great Britain last month.
The former world no.1 is currently being investigated by the ITF, having directed foul-mouthed exchanges at Anne Keothavong, British no.1 Johanna Konta, after already being in hot water for his allegedly racist reaction to Williams’ pregnancy announcement.
He was overheard asking if Williams’ baby would be ‘chocolate with milk’, leading Williams to accuse the Romanian of racism.
Along with the gestures made to support Williams, notably by F1 star Lewis Hamilton, All England Club chairman Philip Brook has made sure Nastase will not be taking a seat in the Royal Box this year.
“His actions were not very good and we condemn them. In terms of an invitation to the Royal Box, he is not going to receive an invitation this year,” Brook said, as per BBC Sport.
It hasn’t taken long for Nastase to respond, as the Romanian has tried to defend his comments made towards Williams while accusing the ‘small-minded’ All English Club of treating Romanians like ‘morons’.
He also hinted towards previous tensions he suffered with Wimbledon when he was a player
In an interview with the Romanian website ProSport Nastase said: “Look at it however you want – revenge maybe? I don’t care,” as per The Telegraph.
“In 1973, when everyone else refused to play at Wimbledon but I did – does that not count for something? Do they not think about that?”
“But if they are going to be so small-minded about it, there’s nothing I can do. What does Wimbledon have to do with what I said about Serena and at the match in Romania?
“If I did something stupid at Wimbledon then I’d understand if I were then suspended. But in this case, I don’t get it.”
“If they consider it normal to deny someone – a 71-year-old (sic) – the chance to watch tennis matches, then that’s their problem. It must mean we Romanians are morons… otherwise I don’t understand it.”
He doesn’t really have a leg to stand on, though, given the nature of his comments and we don’t expect him to receive much sympathy from the wider tennis world.