Serena Williams Fires Back After Joke About Skin Color

Williams criticizes retired tennis great Ilie Nastase over 'racist' comment
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 25, 2017 6:03 AM CDT
Serena Quotes Maya Angelou After Skin Color Insult
Serena Williams covers her face after defeating her sister, Venus, in the women's singles final at the Australian Open in January.   (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)

Serena Williams fired back against tennis great Ilie Nastase after he made a joke about the skin color of her unborn baby, and she quoted Maya Angelou to do it. "It disappoints me to know we live in a society in which people like Ilie Nastase can make such racist comments towards myself and unborn child, and sexist comments against my peers," Williams wrote on Instagram. She was referring in part to the 70-year-old asking whether the child Williams is expecting with fiance Alexis Ohanian, who is white, will be "chocolate with milk." On Monday, Nastase expressed bewilderment to the AP. "I want to know what word I used is racist?" he asked, adding that Williams is a friend. Williams also referred to Nastase's treatment of women on Britain's tennis team—at Fed Cup matches over the weekend, he angrily called Johanna Konta and captain Anne Keothavong "b------."

Nastase also put his arm around Keothavong and asked for her room number, within ear shot of the press, and berated the chair umpire, all of which got him suspended as Romania's team captain by the International Tennis Federation and booted from the tournament, reports the Guardian. "I lost my temper," he acknowledged to the AP, while calling his punishment "crazy." Even as a player, Nastase had been renowned for his temper on the court. In her post, Williams said she supported an ITF investigation of Nastase's behavior and cited poet Angelou: "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." (Williams also wrote a note to her future child.)

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