Ilie Nastase blasts All England Club as 'small-minded' over Royal Box snub

Tom Allnutt, Mark Staniforth
Wimbledon ban: Nastase will not receive his invite to the Royal Box: Boris Streubel/Getty Images for Laureus

Ilie Nastase has blasted the All England Club for announcing it will block his customary invitation to the Royal Box at Wimbledon this year following his behaviour at last month's Fed Cup tie against Great Britain.

Romania team captain Nastase, 70, was ejected from from the match in Constanta following a foul-mouthed tirade directed at his British counterpart Anne Keothavong and British number one Johanna Konta.

It was one of a series of incidents for which he is now awaiting sanction by the International Tennis Federation.

All England Club chairman Philip Brook condemned Nastase's actions at the Wimbledon spring press conference on Wednesday, adding: "He (Nastase) is not going to receive an invitation this year."

​Nastase did not take long to respond, accusing the All England Club of being "small-minded" and of treating Romanians like "morons".

In an interview with the Romanian website ProSport, Nastase also accused Wimbledon officials of having short memories, after he was one of only four seeded men's players to defy a boycott of the Championships by players' body the ATP in 1973.

Nastase said: "Look at it however you want - revenge maybe? I don't care.

"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."

​Nastase, a singles runner-up at Wimbledon in 1972 in 1976, has been temporarily suspended by the ITF while its investigation takes place, but Wimbledon is yet to issue a ban of its own.

The All England Club's chief executive Richard Lewis, however, said the tournament would uphold any ITF suspension and even stop Nastase attending the Championships as a member of the public.

"If he is suspended and we noticed him, he would be stopped," Lewis said.

The controversial Fed Cup weekend began when Nastase was overheard at the press conference on the eve of the tie talking about Serena Williams' unborn baby, saying: "Let's see what colour it has. Chocolate with milk?"

He had already asked Keothavong for her hotel room number, and, after insulting a Press Association journalist the following day, when play got under way, Nastase was heard to call Keothavong and Konta "f****** b******" in a rant which led to his provisional suspension by the ITF.

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