Former world No.1 Ilie Nastase has blasted the All England Club for cancelling his customary invitation to the Royal Box at Wimbledon this year.
Romania team captain Nastase, 70, was ejected from from last month’s Fed Cup tie against Great Britain in Constanta following a foul-mouthed tirade directed at his British counterpart Anne Keothavong and British No.1 Johanna Konta.
It was one of a series of incidents for which Nastase is now awaiting sanction by the International Tennis Federation.
Nastase was also overheard making racist comments about the possible colour of Serena Williams’ baby, reportedly saying: “Let’s see what colour it has. Chocolate with milk?”
All England chairman Philip Brook condemned Nastase’s actions and announced the former great’s ban at the Wimbledon spring press conference on Wednesday.
“He (Nastase) is not going to receive an invitation this year,” he Brook said.
Nastase did not take long to respond, accusing the All England Club of being “small-minded” and of treating Romanians like “morons”.
“Look at it however you want – revenge maybe? I don’t care,” Nastase said.
“But if they are going to be so small-minded about it, there’s nothing I can do,” he added.
“What does Wimbledon have to do with what I said about Serena [Williams] and at the match in Romania? If I did something stupid at Wimbledon then I’d understand if I were then suspended.”
Nastase said if the All England Club considered it normal to deny someone the chance to watch tennis matches, “then that’s their problem”.
It must mean we Romanians are morons … otherwise I don’t understand it,” he said.
Nastase has been temporarily suspended by the ITF while its investigation takes place, but Wimbledon is yet to issue a ban of its own.
All England chief executive Richard Lewis, however, said the tournament would uphold any ITF suspension, with Club chief executive Richard Lewis saying Nastase “could be stopped at the gate” if he tried to enter the grounds as a member of the public.