Serena Williams on Monday called the alleged comments about her unborn child made by former World No 1 Ilie Nastase “racist” and praised the International Tennis Federation for launching a probe into the remarks, Reuters reported.

Last week, the Romanian player, also known as “Nasty” Nastase, was quoted by media as saying in response to William’s pregnancy announcement, “Let’s see what colour it has. Chocolate with milk?”

Williams wrote on her Instagram account, “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... I am not afraid unlike you. You see, I am no coward... You may shoot me with your words... you may try to kill me with your hatefulness, but still like air I will rise.”

Nastase, 70, has been provisionally banned from all International Tennis Federation events following his verbal abuse of British players last weekend in his role as Romanian Fed Cup captain. He had asked British team captain Anne Keothavong for her room number at Constanta last week, and used derogatory language when speaking about her and top British player Johanna Konta.

“(The investigation) is ongoing. At this point, one of the principles that is important is that we want a rigorous process that is fair,” ITF President David Haggerty said on Monday. “We will also hear Nastase’s side of the argument. It will be a thorough process conducted in an efficient manner. I do not think you will be hearing any final decisions in the next two weeks,” he added.

Williams had confirmed last week that she was 20 weeks pregnant with her first child. She returned to the world No 1 spot in the latest Women’s Tennis Association rankings on Monday.


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