Serena Williams has entered the debate over Ilie Nastase’s behaviour in Constanta over the weekend, describing his comment about the skin colour of her unborn child as racist.
While attending the draw ceremony ahead of Great Britain’s Fed Cup tie against Romania, Nastase was caught on tape suggesting that Williams’s baby – which has a white father – would be coloured like “chocolate with milk”.
"It disappoints me to know we live in a society where people like Ilie Nastase can make such racist comments," Williams said in a statement. “This world has come so far but yet we have so much further 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."
Williams said that she would give her full support to the International Tennis Federation in their investigation into Nastase’s conduct, and also quoted a passage from her favourite poem, Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise.
"I am not afraid like 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 the air, I rise."
Williams added: "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 is right...
"I humbly thank the ITF for any consideration given to the facts in this case. They will have my full support. Serena."
Earlier, Nastase told the Daily Mirror: "I don't regret it and they can send me to prison if they want - I don't care.
"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.
"I don't need this bulls***. I'm 70 years old. I don't even get paid for being team captain.
"I don't give a s*** if they fine me or don't let me sit in the captain's chair."