Romanian gymnastics great Nadia Comaneci has sprung to the defence of compatriot Ilie Nastase over his sexist tirades which marred Great Britain’s Fed Cup defeat in Constanta.
But Comaneci, who has been a close friend of the two-time grand slam champion since they both peaked in their respective sports in the late 1970s, warned he must accept any punishment imposed by the International Tennis Federation.
Nastase was expelled midway through the World Group II play-off match after swearing at officials, GB captain Anne Keothavong and world number seven 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
In Cluj for the European Gymnastics Championships, Comaneci 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.”
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