Serena Williams has labelled Ilie Nastase’s recent comments about her unborn child as “racist” and has encouraged the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to conduct a full investigation into the matter.
By Carlo Chikomba
The former world number one Nastase, who is Romania’s Fed Cup captain, was heard speculating whether Williams’ child would be “chocolate with milk” at a news conference before their tie with Great Britain in Constanta last week.
And the 35 year old who is due to give birth to her first child in the autumn has spoken of her disappointment over such comments.
“It disappoints me to know we live in a society where people like Ilie Nastase can make such racist comments,” Williams said in a statement.
“I have said it once and I’ll say it again, this world has come so far but yet we have so much further to go,” Williams added. “Yes, we have broken down so many barriers – however there are a plethora more to go.
“This or anything else will not stop me from pouring love, light and positivity into everything that I do. I will continue to take a lead and stand up for what’s right.”
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has since moved swiftly to launch an investigation into the matter and Serena applauded the organisation for their efforts.
“I humbly thank the ITF for any consideration given to all the facts in this case. They will have my full support,” added Williams, who was engaged to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian in December.
In her statement, the 23-time Grand Slam champion also included quotes from the poem Still I Rise by American civil rights activist Maya Angelou.
“I am not afraid like you. You see, I am no coward. Does my sassiness upset you? Why are you beset with gloom? You may shoot me with your words… you may try to kill me with your hatefulness, but still like the air, I rise.”
Williams, who won her record-breaking Grand Slam at the Australian Open while eight weeks pregnant, thanked her unborn child as she regained the world number one ranking on Monday.
“You gave me the strength I didn’t know I had. You taught me the true meaning of serenity and peace. I can’t wait to meet you,” Williams said in a separate statement.
“I can’t wait for you to join the players box next year. But most importantly, I am so happy to share being number one in the world with you.”