Ilie Nastase aims abuse at Britain's Johanna Konta at Fed Cup

Sharon Marris, News Reporter

Former world number one tennis player Ilie Nastase has been barred from Romania's Fed Cup semi-final tie after apparently aiming abuse at the British team.

The 70-year-old appeared to call Great Britain's captain Anne Keothavong and player Johanna Konta "f***ing bitches".

Konta was leading Sorana Cirstea 6-2, 1-2 when the row began with Nastase reportedly heard saying to the umpire: "What's your f***ing problem?"

He then seemed to turn his anger on Konta and Keothavong.

He was sent off the court and was then escorted from the stands to the locker room.

But Konta was clearly upset, playing the next game in tears and dropping serve before the players left the court.

The International Tennis Federation said Nastase was asked to leave the court for "unsportsmanlike conduct" having already received two official warnings.

"His accreditation was removed and he will play no further part in the tie," they added.

"The ITF has launched an investigation into this matter as well as previous comments made by Mr Nastase during the week."

Those comments include twice asking pregnant Keothavong for her room number and a racist comment about Serena Williams' unborn baby made at a news conference on Friday.

While another player was answering a question, Nastase could be clearly heard saying to the other players: "Let's see what colour it has. Chocolate with milk?"

The baby - which is due in the autumn - will be Williams' first child with fiance Alexis Ohanian, 33, who is the co-founder of website Reddit.

After the remarks were reported, Nastase, who was nicknamed "nasty" during his playing career, targeted British journalist Eleanor Crooks, calling her "stupid".

Ms Crooks told Sky News that Nastase had stormed into the press centre at the Tenis Club IDU in the Romanian city looking for British reporters.

"He asked me: 'Why did you write that? You're stupid, stupid'.

"I tried to explain I had just reported what he said and we didn't view these comments (about Williams' baby) as acceptable.

"He just carried on calling me stupid many more times and then he left."

She added: "He has had a reputation for a long time as being a volatile character so I wasn't surprised that he was looking for the British media this morning.

"I figured he would probably be unhappy with what we'd written, even though he didn't dispute that we reported accurately what he had said."

Ms Crooks said that after Nastase had been escorted to the locker room during Saturday's controversial match, he had also been removed from the stadium, something she filmed.

He had also tried to approach her during this episode, asking why she was filming and again calling her "stupid".

Ms Crooks said: He came towards me quite aggressively and had to be restrained by security - at that point I did feel threatened.

"He was clearly very angry with me for what I felt was just doing my job."

Nastase later told Romanian news channel Digi24 that he had a very good relationship with Williams, adding that his remark was not racist but was "a joke".

He said: "If someone didn't understand it, they lack humour... they have their own humour and we have our humour."

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