At a news conference to tout Romania’s Fed Cup playoff against Great Britain, Romania's captain apparently made a comment about Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam singles champion who announced she was pregnant with her first child Wednesday with fiancé Alexis Ohanian.
"Let's see what color it has,” Nastase said, according to ESPN. “Chocolate with milk?"
Williams, who won the Australian Open in January, said she was taking time off from the tour to have her baby. Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit, is white.
Nastase was not directly asked about Williams, but made the comment, in Romanian and clearly audible, to the other players while team No. 1 player Simona Halep was answering a question about Williams.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) said it has launched an investigation. In a statement, officials said that “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."
The Romanian tennis federation declined comment.
It’s the second time in a month that Nastase has made controversial comments about Williams, ESPN reported. After being appointed Romania’s Fed Cup captain in October, Nastase made unsubstantiated allegations of doping against Williams, based entirely on her physique.