The drama occurred in the second match of the day, with Konta leading Sorana Cirstea 6-2 1-3. Nastase — who had already made? controversial remarks about Serena Williams‘ unborn child prior to the match — was escorted from the stadium following a warning for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The Press Association reported that Nastase had been heard to say to the umpire: “What’s your f***ing problem?”. He then appeared to call Great Britain captain Anne Keothavong and Konta “f***ing b******.”
Konta approached the umpire to complain and left the court in tears, with her British team-mates and Keothavong joining her in the locker room as play was suspended for around 20 minutes.
Romanian No.1 Simona Halep — playing in her home town of Constanta — spoke to fans to ask them for calm and play eventually resumed, with Konta winning five games in a row to seal a straight-sets victory.
Halep had earlier tried to defend Nastase over his comments about Williams, stating: “He’s joking all the time and I’m 100 per cent that was a joke.
“I don’t believe that was something bad coming from him but I think it was not respectful a little bit with his comment. But we cannot get upset on Ilie, he’s like that and he’s with us the same.”
The Euro Africa Zone tie now stands at 1-1, with Halep having defeated Heather Watson in the first match of the day. The winner will qualify for the World Group, a level Britain has not reached in 24 years.