Ilie Nastase's appearance on court at Madrid Open final 'cast a shadow' on the tournament claims WTA chief

Nastase is currently serving a provisional suspension by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) as a result of his behaviour during April's Fed Cup tie against Great Britain

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The Independent Online

The organisers of the Mutua Madrid Open have been criticised for inviting Ilie Nastase to Saturday's award ceremony.

Following Simona Halep's final victory over Kristina Mladenovic, her fellow Romanian and Fed Cup captain Nastase appeared on court in Madrid and was photographed with the world number eight.

Nastase is currently serving a provisional suspension by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) as a result of his behaviour during April's Fed Cup tie against Great Britain.

The 70-year-old former French and US Open champion made an apparently racist comment about Serena Williams' unborn baby and repeatedly asked British captain Anne Keothavong for her room number during press conferences before the tie.

He then launched foul-mouth abuse at Keothavong, British number one Johanna Konta and tie referee Andreas Egli, causing Konta's match to be briefly suspended as she left the court in tears, and also confronted Press Association tennis correspondent Eleanor Crooks on two occasions.

French Open organisers last week followed their Wimbledon counterparts in barring Nastase from a grand slam in 2017 and the WTA had revoked his credential privileges while the ITF investigated his actions, with chief executive Steve Simon confirming as much in a statement released on Saturday night.

He said: "It was an exciting final match and I heartily congratulate Simona and Kristina for their outstanding display of tennis. 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.

"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. It was both irresponsible and unacceptable of the Madrid Open to bestow him an official role.

"The Madrid tournament is a premier-level event and held to the highest standards of professional tennis and leadership which were not reflected today."

Nastase's former coach and manager Ion Tiriac is the developer and owner of the Madrid Open.

PA

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