Wimbledon 2017: Ilie Nastase says organisers are 'small-minded'

Ilie Nastase
Nastase said his comments to British players at the recent Fed Cup tie in Romania came when he was no longer on the court, and no longer acting as captain

Ilie Nastase says Wimbledon organisers are "small-minded" after they announced he will not be invited to the Royal Box at this year's tournament.

Romania's Fed Cup captain, a former world number one, is currently under investigation for comments he made about Serena Williams' unborn child.

Williams accused Nastase of racism after he was overheard asking if the child would be "chocolate with milk".

He also insulted British player Johanna Konta and captain Anne Keothavong.

At a news conference on Wednesday, All England Club chairman Philip Brook confirmed 70-year-old Nastase, who reached the Wimbledon final in 1972 and 1976, would not be present.

"His actions were not very good and we condemn them. In terms of an invitation to the Royal Box, he is not going to receive an invitation this year," Brook said.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has launched an investigation into remarks Nastase made during April's Fed Cup match, when he also directed an angry outburst towards Konta that left the British number one in tears.

In an interview with the BBC later in April, the Romanian defended his remarks about world number one Williams.

And following the announcement that his invitation to the Royal Box at Wimbledon this year would be blocked, Nastase accused organisers of treating Romanians like "morons".

"What does Wimbledon have to do with what I said about Serena and at the match in Romania?" he told Romanian website ProSport.

"If I did something stupid at Wimbledon then I'd understand if I were then suspended. But in this case, I don't get it.

"In 1973, when everyone else refused to play at Wimbledon [because of a boycott by the Association of Tennis Professionals] but I did - does that not count for something? Do they not think about that?

"If they are going to be so small-minded about it, there's nothing I can do."

Record prize money

Wimbledon also announced record prize money of £31.6m for this year's event on Wednesday's press conference, an increase of 12.5% on 2016.

The men's and women's singles champions will earn £2.2m each, with an increase to benefit players at each round of the draw. First-round singles losers will earn £35,000.

Overall prize money for the last year's edition was £28.1m, with the singles champions earning £2m.

This year's event gets under way on 3 July, the latest start since the 1895 edition, when play began on 8 July.

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