BUCHAREST, Romania – Ilie Năstase said he would be considered the “bad boy” if he says anything more about Serena Williams.
Năstase, the captain of Romania’s Fed Cup team, last week speculated about the skin color of the baby the pregnant Williams is expecting.
When asked Tuesday about Williams’ response, Nastase told the press: “Anything I say, I am the bad boy.”
Nastase also questioned the legitimacy of writing about his initial comments ahead of the Fed Cup series against Britain.
“Why write a news story like this? Just to have a scandal? There are many more important things going on,” Năstase said in a telephone interview from Budapest, Hungary.
Năstase earned the nickname “Nasty” for his on-court outbursts and gamesmanship in his playing heyday in the 1970s. But it also described his game, which earned him two Grand Slam singles titles and more than 100 ATP titles. He’s a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
On Monday, Williams wrote on Instagram that she was disappointed “to know we live in a society where people like Ilie Năstase can make such racist comments towards myself and [my] unborn child.”
Williams is black. Her fiance, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, is white.
Williams also referred to Năstase’s “sexist comments against my peers” — a reference to his verbal abuse directed at British player Johanna Konta, British captain Anne Keothavong and the chair umpire during Fed Cup matches over the weekend. He was ejected from the contest and provisionally suspended by the International Tennis Federation.
Romania won the best-of-five series 3-2.
Simona Halep, a member of Romania’s Fed Cup team, said she could not defend the things Nastase has said.
“What he did was wrong,” Halep said Tuesday in Stuttgart at the Porsche Grand Prix. “I don’t know if he will be able anymore to be captain. I don’t know if he will be our captain even if he is not banned.
“I liked how he was with me on the court the first match. He was very positive and he supported me. But the way he talked, I didn’t like and I cannot accept that.”