Williams, 35, is speaking out against racist comments allegedly made by Romanian tennis captain Ilie Nastase. During a Fed Cup press conference on Friday, Nastase — a Grand Slam champion in the ’70s and former world No. 1 — allegedly said of Serena’s unborn child, “Let’s see what color it has. Chocolate with milk?”
Taking a break from her babymoon with fiancé Alexis Ohanian, Williams addressed the incident on Instagram.
“It disappoints me to know we live in a society where people like Ilie Nastase can make such racist comments towards myself and unborn child, and sexist comments against my peers,” Williams wrote.
The “sexist comments against my peers” statement is referencing other obscene outbursts from Nastase at the Fed Cup tournament during the match between Romania and Great Britain. Nastase was ultimately ejected for verbal abusing Britain’s Johanna Konta, Britain’s captain, Anne Keothavong, and the chair umpire.
Serena continued, “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. 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.”
Quoting parts of Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise” she added, “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.”
The International Tennis Federation is considering disciplinary action against Nastase, 70.
“The ITF does not tolerate discriminatory and offensive language and behavior of any kind,” the ITF said in a statement. “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.”
And the ITF has Williams’s full support. “I humbly thank the ITF for any consideration given to all the facts in this case,” she concluded.
On Monday, Nastase told the Associated Press he didn’t understand the fuss over his comment about Serena’s unborn child. He said he considers Williams a friend and asked, “I want to know what word I used is racist?”
Williams hasn’t let the incident get her down. After climbing back to the top spot in the Women’s Tennis Association rankings, the superstar posted a sweet message to her “Dearest Baby” on social media.
Yeah, Serena is definitely having the last laugh with this one.
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