Pregnant tennis star Serena Williams has labelled comments made by Romanian tennis legend Ilie Nastase towards her and her unborn baby as “racist”.
The American has responded publicly for the first time to the controversy which has erupted over the Romania Fed Cup team captain’s behaviour at his side’s match with Great Britain last weekend.
Nastase is being investigated by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) after he was overheard at Friday’s press conference saying about Williams’ unborn baby: “Let’s see what colour it has. Chocolate with milk?”
He denies it was racist.
He also asked British team captain Anne Keothavong for her room number, while, when play got under way in Constanta on Saturday, Nastase was expelled from the World Group II play-off after being accused of swearing at officials, Keothavong and world No 7 Johanna Konta.
Writing on Instagram, Williams said: “It disappoints me to know we live in a society which people like Ilie Nastase can make such racist comments towards myself and unborn child, and sexist comments against my peers.
“I have said it once and I’ll say it again, this world has come so far but yet we have so much further to go. Yes, we have broken down so many barriers – however, there are a plethora more to go.
“This or anything else will not stop me from pouring love, light and positivity into everything that I do. I will continue to take a lead and stand up for what’s right.
“I am not afraid unlike you. You see, I am no coward. Does my sassiness upset you? Why are you beset with gloom? You may shoot me with your words… you may try to kill me with your hatefulness, but still like air, I rise.
“I humbly thank the ITF for any consideration given to all the facts in this case. They will have my full support.” – Sky Sports