Serena Williams has described alleged comments from Ilie Nastase regarding her unborn child as "racist" and pledged her full support to the International Tennis Federation (ITF) as it investigates the 70-year-old's conduct.
Romania's Fed Cup captain purportedly made racially insensitive remarks relating to Williams' pregnancy, days after the 23-time grand slam champion revealed she is expecting her first child with fiance Alexis Ohanian. Nastase is reported to have said on Friday of Williams' unborn baby: "Let's see what colour it has. Chocolate with milk?"
On Saturday, Nastase was ejected from Romania's Fed Cup play-off against Great Britain in Constanta after being given a second official warning for comments he made after Sorana Cirstea took a 2-1 lead in the second set of her rubber against Johanna Konta.
He was then escorted from the arena and aimed a tirade at members of the media on his way out, with Nastase accused of verbally abusing Konta and GB captain Anne Keothavong.
Nastase – who has been provisionally suspended by the ITF as a result of his antics in Constanta – denies that his comments concerning Williams were racist, insisting they were meant as "a joke".
However, on Monday, Williams expressed her disappointment in an Instagram post that referenced Nastase's behaviour over recent days.
"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," she wrote.
"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 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 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."