“If you have confidence you have patience. Confidence that is everything.”- Ilie Nastase
Romanian tennis superstar Ilie Nastase was the world number one ranked player between 1973 and 1974. He won a lot of titles, like seven Grand Slam titles: two in singles, three in men’s doubles and two in mixed doubles. Furthermore, he was Wimbledon men’s singles runner-up in 1972 and 1976.
But who is Ilie Nastase exactly?
Born in Bucharest in July 1946, he grew up in poor family conditions. His mother Elena didn’t work, while his father George was a policeman and then a grounds- man at the club, where Ilie first played tennis. In that time, in Romania, there weren’t many courts and it was difficult to get equipment. Also, the game was not so popular, so he finally started playing on the tennis tour at 20.
His first steps in the field of the sport scene, he came into a contact as football player in Team Sport Club Progresul, Bucharest, but after his 14th birthday, he finally find a big love in the field of tennis.
Because of his natural ability and intuition, he took nine games in a row off, in his first game, in 1967, in the Davis Cup against Spain. One of the most gifted and fluid players in the history of tennis, Ilie Nastase was a player with great touch, speed and all the strokes. Maybe he didn’t have great skills, but was better known for his temper. He is one of the five tennis players, in the third place in the world, who won more than 100 pro titles: 57 single and 45 double titles according to the Association of Tennis Professionals. Nastase won 780 singles matches, eighth best in history.
His motto: “My ambition is to do a good job. I never plan anything.”
The Former World No. 1 Romanian tennis pro, who was regarded as one of the greatest players in the 1970s. He won the U.S. Open over Arthur Ashe in 1972 and the French Open in 1973.
His funny character
About his character, he explained: “As long as I can get angry then I play well. If I play well I can beat everybody. I am happy because I am getting angry.” Angry? No way!
“One day when a linesman starts to laugh I swear I will hit the guy over the head with my racket. I think it will be the end of my career, but I will be happy.” You lying, Ilie. Maybe, a little bit provoking, but not bad.
With his nickname ‘Bucharest Buffoon’, the tennis icon was arguably the biggest entertainer on the court. No one entertained fans like the gifted Romanian. He didn’t just entertain the crowd by producing magic from his racket, but by his mimicry and antics, amusing the spectators. He was loose and funny and amusing and unpredictable. A real “Clown Prince”. Even during a crucial phase of a match, he was likely to do something bizarre that would entertain the crowd.
“Sometimes I feel like tap-dancing, screeching, unscrewing light bulbs, pulling curtains, combing hair, doing knee bends, handstands and turning somersaults out there.”
Because of this kind of character, critics increased, such as “the kind of ‘character’ sport doesn’t need”. Believing that to become a good athlete, it is not enough to be a good one in technics, but also to have a positive character. The sporting world is not a poorer place for showing his good ambitions. Actually, it is a better place. Numerous competitors, such as Pele and George Foreman have demonstrated that it’s possible to swell with personality without becoming a full-on jerk.
While maintained his concentration during a match, he could conjure up the most devastating tennis, being regarded as a tennis magician. Or even an artist creating with great originality and panache. Furthermore, he was a likable and good-natured person. Ilie became the first European in the Open era to received prize money in excess $1 million in 1976. Finally, in 1991, he was entered into the Tennis Hall of fame.
Nastase consistently was ranked much higher in world ratings than his major tournament record would seem to indicate, placing him among the top 10 players from 1970 to 1977. With huge range of tennis skills, Nastase was a fast player and exhibited intricate footwork and brilliant ball handling in lobbing past opponents.
Nowadays… a career as Politician
Nowadays, he is married with his fourth woman and got father of five children. He holds the rank of Major General in the Romanian military. Finally in 1990 he won a seat in Parliament as a senator, and want to advocate for better Sports conditions in Romania. He explained: “I hope I can change things in Romanian sports. My tennis academy in Bucharest should be ready at the end of this year.” Besides, Nastase was elected from the Bucharest seat to the Romanian Senate in the year 2012.
Maybe, he didn’t become Wimbledon champion, but he become a champion in the hard of his fans.