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Off-court Tennis Stars

Nasty by name. Nasty by nature. That's what sport critics said about Lie Nastase Romania's first tennis player to score stardom in the west. The former on-court wildcat stood as a Social Democrat candidate for the mayorship of Bucharest in 1996 but was defeated at the polls by Victor Ciorbea, Romania's current Prime Minister.

At the peak of his career in 1971-75 Nastase was ranked No 1 in the world. During his 26-year career he won 57 singles titles including the 1972 US Open and the 1973 French Open. In 1972 he wed a Franco-Belgian model. In 1982 the couple spilt, and in 1984 he married Alexandra King, a US model and soap-opera actor, with whom he set up home in Manhattan.

Nastase's doubles partner was Romanian Ion Tiriac. Together they took Romania to the 1972 Davis Cup final in Bucharest, but the home country lost to the US. Tiriac subsequently settled in Germany where he managed German tennis champion Boris Becker. Since 1990 Tiriac has promoted foreign investment in Romania: he owns the Ion Tiriac Commercial Bank (Banca Comerciala Ion Tiriac, BCIT); is a major shareholder in Pro TV, the country's first private TV channel; established Mercedes-Benz in Romania; and opened Romania's first cash-and-carry, Metro, in Bucharest. In his hometown of Brasov Tiriac 'adopted' 100 children and set up the Waldorf school for orphans. Ion Tiriac is a national hero in Romania today.

Source: Romania & Moldova by Nicola Williams 1998