After his astonishing rant in Constanta on Saturday, Ilie Nastase has been accused of an earlier bout of sexist on-court abuse by Dominique Monami, the Belgian Fed Cup captain, who suffered harassment during Romania’s last Fed Cup tie in February.
Monami told The Daily Telegraph: “He insulted me on court. He said it in French so that I could clearly understand it. He has no respect for women and he is so full of himself.”
A 43-year-old mother who reached the world’s top 10 in the late 1990s, Monami was reluctant to repeat the content of Nastase’s comments. Asked whether the on-court officials had stepped in, she replied: “They just asked him to calm down.”
The International Tennis Federation confirmed on Monday that Nastase’s behaviour had not been mentioned in the referee’s report.
Nastase has now received a provisional ITF ban after calling Anne Keothavong and Johanna Konta “f---ing bitches” over the weekend. An investigation into his conduct is ongoing.
But in the view of Keothavong, the British captain, the governing body should have been stronger and faster in its action, particularly after Nastase had hijacked the draw ceremony by asking for her room number and making an off-key wisecrack about the colour of Serena Williams’s unborn baby.
“Given previous history, I don’t want to point direct blame at anyone,” said Keothavong. “But maybe it could have been pre-empted. And given what happened at the previous tie when Romania took on Belgium and the issues they faced there, which I was aware of, it would have been tough for anyone to control [him].”
Nastase, who, was only appointed as Romania’s Fed Cup captain in October, two ties ago, was defiant when he told the Daily Mirror: “I was just trying to promote the interest of my girl. The English player just stormed off without even asking permission to leave the court and I admit that’s when I called her a bitch. She kept trying to keep the crowd quiet – but it’s not an opera, it’s a game.”
This order of events is inaccurate, as a Konta only left the court after Nastase had been ejected. But he was closer to the truth when he said: “I’m invited to Wimbledon every year by the All England Club… They probably won’t invite me this year but I don’t care really.”
It is understood that Nastase has indeed been blackballed from the Royal Box this year.
Annabel Croft, who has played numerous exhibitions with Nastase, told The Daily Telegraph: “He can’t see a woman without flirting with her. I’m not saying it’s right, and I don’t condone it for one moment, but I know he wouldn’t see anything wrong with it and he is probably perplexed by the reaction.
“When we play together, I just ignore all that stuff. And I have seen a good side to him. There was one time when Guillermo Vilas was on the other side and he was saying some vile things to me. Ilie told him to stop, which I was grateful for.
“But there have been other times when I’ve seen Ilie behave horribly, too.”