(Reuters) - Ilie Nastase, the 71-year-old world number one and ex-Romania Fed Cup captain, has had his ban from International Tennis Federation (ITF) team competitions reduced on appeal by an independent tribunal.
He was banned from acting in an official capacity at ITF team competitions until Dec. 31, 2020, and from attending them until Dec. 31, 2018, after multiple breaches of conduct rules at a Romania-Britain Fed Cup tie in Constanta last April.
The ITF found Nastase guilty of making a “highly inappropriate and racially insensitive” comment about Serena Williams’ then unborn child and of making “advances of a sexual nature” towards Britain’s team captain Anne Keothavong.
He was also found guilty of directing “abusive and threatening comments” at Keothavong, British player Johanna Konta, match officials and a member of the press.
Nastase was eventually booted out of the Fed Cup tie after swearing at the referee, Konta and Keothavong. He was later replaced as Romania captain.
Nastase appealed against his sanctions and the independent tribunal announced on Wednesday that it had reduced the bans by eight months each. Nastase can now attend ITF team events from April 23 this year and work at them from April 23, 2020.
However, his initial $10,000 fine has been doubled to $20,000.
Nastase can still be involved in men’s Association of Tennis Professionals and Women’s Tennis Association events as they lie outside of the ITF’s jurisdiction.
Nastase was heard speaking in Romanian to one of his team members about Williams’ baby during the draw for his country’s Fed Cup tie against Britain.
“Let’s see what colour it has. Chocolate with milk?” the former French Open and U.S. Open champion was quoted as saying by multiple media outlets.
Nastase also put his arm around Keothavong at a news conference ahead of the tie and asked for her hotel room number.
(This version of the story corrects to make clear in lead and para six that an independent tribunal, not the ITF, conducted the appeal)
Reporting by Matt Westby; Editing by Ken Ferris