Ilie Nastase posts Facebook 'apology' over racist Serena Williams comment

Bethany Minelle, News Reporter

Former world number one Ilie Nastase has made an attempt at apologising for his racist comments about Serena William’s unborn child.

The 70-year-old posted a statement on Facebook on Friday, in which he called his speculation over the skin colour of Williams' baby "spontaneous".

Nastase was heard during a news conference last week commenting in his native Romanian to fellow players: "Let's see what colour it has. Chocolate with milk?"

The tennis star accidentally revealed her pregnancy on Snapchat the week before when she posted a photo of herself wearing a yellow swimsuit and the caption "20 weeks".

While he did offer his "apologies, for whatever they may be worth right now", he was also quick to criticise the "escalation of the situation", which he claims has been "exaggerated by all".

He went on to praise Williams as "one of the greatest players of all times", but did not display the same high professional opinion of world number seven Johanna Konta who he said "should not have spoken with the chair umpire."

The day after the Romanian head coach made the comment about Williams, he found himself barred from Romania's Fed Cup semi-final tie after aiming abuse at the British team.

During the Group II play-off match, he appeared to call Great Britain's captain Anne Keothavong and player Johanna Konta "f***ing bitches", at which point he was escorted from the stands.

In his statement, he said he asked Ms Konta "in a civilised way for some explanations and she sent me to the tribune where I was removed as captain.

"After this, the umpire suspended the match. I don't know why the match was suspended."

While Nastase said he would not attempt to "defend" his words which he said "nothing could really excuse", he insisted that "behind them was my desire to defend the interests of the Romanian team and Romanian tennis."

Nastase - who was known as Mr Nasty during the height of his playing career - also touched on his own "traditionally irreverent attitude" which he said did not "excuse my statements".

Looking back to the moment as a five-year-old "when I first picked up a racket" he said that to him, tennis was more than "a sport or a profession" and instead was "my life".

Having now been suspended by the International Tennis Federation he admitted that "the last few days have been difficult for me."

In a further blow to his professional pride, the two-time Grand Slam winner is also set to be banned from this year's royal box at Wimbledon.

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