LONDON (AP) Ilie Nastase had two tennis bans reduced by eight months and his fine doubled to $20,000 on Wednesday following his appeal of International Tennis Federation sanctions for foul-mouthed comments and misconduct as the Romanian Fed Cup captain.
The ITF suspended the 71-year-old Nastase from Fed Cup and Davis Cup events and from working in an official capacity in the sport after his outbursts in April. On Wednesday, the independent tribunal found Nastase in breach of four articles of the ITF’s welfare policy.
The tribunal agreed that Nastase, the 1973 French Open champion, hurled abuse at British player Johanna Konta and the umpire during a Fed Cup match and made “unwelcome advances of a sexual nature” toward Britain’s captain Anne Keothavong.
The tribunal ruled Nastase can attend ITF competitions, such as Fed Cup and Davis Cup, starting on April 24. The ban doesn’t apply to Grand Slam, ATP or WTA tournaments, which are not under the ITF’s jurisdiction.
He can return in an official capacity to ITF events on April 24, 2020.
The tribunal also backed the ITF’s judgment that Nastase made “abusive and threatening comments to a member of the accredited media” and “racially insensitive” remarks about the possible skin color of the then-unborn baby of Serena Williams.
However, Nastase issued his own interpretation Wednesday in a statement released in Bucharest.
Nastase said he welcomed the “conclusion that I am not a racist, nor that I had any racist intentions when I made the remark in relation to Ms Serena Williams’ child.”
Williams had called Nastase’s comments toward her racist and his verbal abuse of players as sexist. Nastase apologized last April in a statement on Facebook.
“While I have learned my lesson from this experience, I also hope that now (the ITF) will realize that their treatment toward me was exaggerated,” he said in the statement Wednesday.
Nastase, a former top-ranked player, was barred last year from the French Open and was not invited to the Royal Box at Wimbledon, where he was a two-time finalist.
Nastase earned the nickname “Nasty” for his on-court outbursts and gamesmanship in his playing heyday in the 1970s.