Ilie Nastase remains unrepentant over his sexist tirade which marred Great Britain’s Fed Cup defeat in Constanta at the weekend.
The Romanian team captain was expelled midway through the World Group II play-off match after swearing at officials, GB captain Anne Keothavong and world No 7 Johanna Konta.
Nastase was heard to call Keothavong and Konta “f***ing bitches” after the British team complained about calls from the crowd during points, while he also launched an astonishing rant at a Press Association journalist.
On Sunday, the International Tennis Federation issued Nastase with a provisional ban under which he will not be allowed access to, or accreditation for, any ITF event.
With the ITF investigation ongoing, he awaits further punishment, but has insisted that he does not care what further repercussions may await him
The 70-year-old said: “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 b******t. I’m 70 years old. I don’t even get paid for being team captain. I don’t give a s**t if they fine me or don’t let me sit in the captain’s chair.”
Romanian gymnastics great Nadia Comaneci has sprung to the defence of compatriot Nastase.
A close friend of the two-time grand slam champion since they both peaked in their respective sports in the late 1970s, she warned he must accept any punishment imposed by the International Tennis Federation.
In Cluj for the European Gymnastics Championships, Comaneci, pictured above, said: “Ilie is very patriotic and sometimes he says things that he doesn’t really mean – it’s just Ilie, and he will always be my friend.
“Of course Ilie is responsible for what comes out of his mouth, and I think it is important in sport that you keep the respect and good behaviour.
“He will have to deal with it [the consequences], but he can survive whatever happens to him. People make mistakes. Everybody in Romania loves Ilie because he is Ilie.”
GB captain Keothavong appeared to question whether Nastase should ever have been appointed as Fed Cup captain given his notoriously volatile temperament.
She said: “His behaviour on court over the weekend and leading up to this tie was inappropriate and in hindsight maybe he shouldn’t have been put in the position that he was.
“You walk out on to court as a tennis player expecting to be in a safe environment and expecting to be playing against a partisan crowd – that’s understandable – but you don’t expect to be verbally abused when you’re just trying to do your job.”