(Reuters) - The head of women’s tennis has condemned Madrid Open organizers for allowing controversial Romanian Fed Cup captain Ilie Nastase to take part in the trophy presentation ceremony following Saturday’s final.
The 70-year-old is under investigation by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) following last month’s Fed Cup tie with Britain, where he swore at members of the opposing team and made a derogatory remark about Serena Williams’s unborn child.
However, the former world number one shared the stage with Madrid champion and compatriot Simona Halep, who defended her title with a 7-5 6-7 (5) 6-2 victory over Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic.
“It was an exciting final match and I heartily congratulate Simona and Kristina for their outstanding display of tennis,” Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) CEO Steve Simon said in a statement on the governing body’s website. (www.wtatennis.com)
“The only shadow cast on the day was Mr Nastase’s invitation to participate in today’s award ceremony. He had no place on court today,” Simon added.
“He is currently under a provisional suspension by the ITF for his prior offensive actions and we revoked his credential privileges at WTA events while the investigation is being completed.”
Following the incidents at the World Group playoff tie in Constanta, the French Open announced that Nastase would not be given accreditation to this year’s tournament, while Wimbledon organizers have also moved to deny him entry to their event.
Simon expressed his disappointment that the Madrid Open had adopted a more relaxed approach towards the Romanian.
“It was both irresponsible and unacceptable of the Madrid Open to bestow him an official role,” he added.
“The Madrid tournament is a Premier-level event and held to the highest standards of professional tennis and leadership which were not reflected today.”
Reporting by John O'Brien in Singapore; Editing by Ian Ransom