Nastase's tirade forces suspension of Romania Fed Cup match

CONSTANTA, Romania (AP) Romania Fed Cup captain Ilie Nastase was thrown out of the playoff against Britain after abusing players and the umpire on Saturday.

The 70-year-old Nastase also publicly hurled insults at a British journalist in Constanta, a day after apparently making racially offensive comments about Serena Williams' pregnancy.

International Tennis Federation president David Haggerty condemned Nastase for his ''unacceptable behavior,'' and the body also began an investigation.

''No player, official, member of the media or fan should have to endure any kind of abuse,'' Haggerty said, ''and Mr. Nastase will rightly play no further part in this tie.''

With Britain's Johanna Konta leading Sorana Cirstea 6-2, 1-2, Nastase became embroiled in a row apparently about noise from the crowd. He was heard to hurl expletives at Konta, Britain captain Anne Keothavong, and the umpire.

Nastase was sent off the court by referee Andreas Egli and, after taking a seat in the stands, was then escorted back to the locker room.

The ITF said Egli asked Nastase to leave the court ''for unsportsmanlike conduct, having already received two official warnings. Mr. Nastase was also removed from the grounds due to his serious misconduct.'' Nastase's accreditation was removed and the ITF's adjudication panel will now decide on any sanctions.

The match between Konta and Cirstea resumed, and the British player won five successive games to win 6-2, 6-3 and level the World Group II playoff at 1-1.

In incidents away from the court on Saturday, Britain's Press Association said journalist Eleanor Crooks was verbally insulted by Nastase for reporting his comments about Williams. Nastase told Crooks: ''Why did you write that? You're stupid, you're stupid.''

The tirade went on for more than two minutes, the news agency said.

''He repeatedly called me stupid, asked me why what he said was racist,'' Crooks said. ''I explained we simply reported what he said and that it was unnecessary to make such a comment about color. He said the English were out to get him and called me stupid a few more times.

''Fortunately he was across the other side of the room from me and there were other journalists around so it was unpleasant rather than threatening. But it is certainly not the behavior you would expect of someone in his position and wholly unnecessary, especially given he did not dispute the accuracy of what was reported.''

Nastase, nicknamed ''Nasty'' in his playing days, won two Grand Slam singles titles and was world No. 1 in the 1970s. He retired as a player in 1985 and was inducted in the tennis hall of fame in 1991.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.