UPDATE: Serena Williams, the world's No. 1 tennis star and proud mother-to-be, has responded to Romanian tennis legend Ilie Nastase after his now-infamous comment regarding the skin color of Williams' unborn child.
"It disappoints me to know we live in a society where people like [Nastase] can make such racist comments [toward] myself and unborn child, and sexist comments against my peers,” Williams said in an Instagram post.
“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....
"I am not afraid unlike 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 air, I rise."
Quoting the Maya Angelou poem “Still I Rise,” Williams thanked the International Tennis Federation “for any consideration given to all the facts in this case, “ adding that “[t]hey will have my full support."
Romanian tennis legend Ilie Nastase is under investigation by the International Tennis Federation after allegedly making a disparaging remark about Serena Williams' recently revealed pregnancy.
Williams, 35, shared on social media Wednesday that she is pregnant with her first child with fiancé and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, who is white, and will take time away from the tour.
Nastase, 70, reportedly made the comment at a news conference Friday previewing a playoff game between Romania and Great Britain for the Fed Cup,
"Let's see what color it has. Chocolate with milk?" he was quoted by Romanian and British media as saying, purportedly in reference to Williams' unborn child.
Nastase was not asked about Williams himself but made the comment, in Romanian and clearly audible, to the other players while Romanian No.1 Simona Halep was answering a question about the 23-time grand slam singles champion.
Press Association Sport tennis correspondent Eleanor Crooks was the only member of the British media present in the press room at the time.
Crooks reported that Natase challenged her for revealing his words: "Why did you write that? You're stupid, you're stupid."
"He repeatedly called me stupid, asked me why what he said was racist," Crooks said.
"I explained we simply reported what he said and that it was unnecessary to make such a comment about color. He said the English were out to get him and called me stupid a few more times.
"Fortunately he was across the other side of the room from me and there were other journalists around so it was unpleasant rather than threatening.
"But it is certainly not the behavior you would expect of someone in his position and wholly unnecessary, especially given he did not dispute the accuracy of what was reported."
The International Tennis Federation launched an investigation and said in a statement: "The ITF does not tolerate discriminatory and offensive language and behavior of any kind.
"We are aware of alleged comments made by Romanian captain Ilie Nastase and have begun an immediate investigation so that we have the full facts of the situation before taking further and appropriate action."
These are the second controversial remarks made by Nastase about Williams in a month. Last month, Nastase made allegations of doping by Williams based entirely on her physique.
The 70-year-old Nastase, nicknamed "Nasty" in his playing days, who had a reputation as a playboy during and after his playing career, also clearly made Great Britain captain Anne Keothavong feel uncomfortable with a number of inappropriate remarks.
He asked for her room number during the official dinner on Thursday and then repeated the request when the captains posed together for photographs following Friday's draw while putting his arm tightly around Keothavong's shoulder. When both teams were called back together, Nastase said to Keothavong, who is married and 18 weeks pregnant with her second child, "We keep being attracted."
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters