Romanian tennis great Ilie Nastase apologised Friday for derogatory comments about Serena Williams and for a foul-mouthed Fed Cup tirade that saw him suspended by the International Tennis Federation, Vanguard Nigeria reports.
“My words during the Fed Cup have rightfully caused controversy and upset the audience, the press and, most painfully for me, the tennis world,” the former world number one, 70, said on Facebook.
He said that his comments last Friday about the pregnant Williams, he was overheard by a journalist talking about her baby being “chocolate with milk” was a “spontaneous” reaction to hearing she was expecting her first child.
“I am fully aware that nothing can truly excuse my statements not the tension of a high-stakes game, not my traditionally irreverent attitude, not the unfortunate escalation of the situation,”
He further added, “My life remains dedicated to tennis and its audiences, so please accept my apologies, for whatever they may be worth right now.”
The comments last Friday prompted outrage from Williams, the 23-time Grand Slam winner, and messages of support from the world of tennis and beyond.
“It disappoints me to know we live in a society where people like Ilie Nastase can make such racist comments towards myself and unborn child, and sexist comments against my peers,” Williams, 35, had said.