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Ilie Nastase, former world No. 1 tennis player, decorated by President Iohannis

President Klaus Iohannis on Tuesday bestowed the Order of the Star of Romania in rank of Commander upon Ilie Nastase, the former tennis player whom was ranked world No. 1 by the Association of Tennis Professionals, in 1973.”You were born, Mr. Ilie Nastase, to offer all the sports fans more than performance; you were a human nature phenomenon on the tennis court. In the sport you practiced with so much passion, becoming one of the world’s most important tennis players, you offered a complete show. The famous U.S. Open and Roland Garros competitions keep you in the select club of their winners. For my generation, you were a dream athlete. Although we did not have today’s media, when Ilie played, it was a celebration: we all gathered in front of the TV or turned on our radios to admire and listen the show you created on court. We were then completely forgetting all the injustices of those years, and many of us dreamed to be like you. You were definitely the idol of a generation,” the President said at the decoration ceremony hosted at the Cotroceni Palace, seat of the Presidential Administration, according to Agerpres.

The event was attended by Sports Minister Elisabeta Lipa, several presidential advisors, representatives of the Romanian Tennis Federation, and Nastase’s wife Brigitte Sfat.

Iohannis insisted that Nastase is recognized at home and worldwide as a symbol of tennis and of Romania. “Without you, tennis would not be what it is today. You will always be a landmark for the Romanian sports, and I wish your performances be a stimulus for the young generation of athletes,” he said.

The decoration is a recognition by the head of state of Nastase’s performances and indisputable contribution to the international prestige of Romanian tennis, the President added. “Thank you on behalf of Romania and of myself for serving with dedication the reputation of Romanian sports abroad,” he told the tennis star, who celebrates on Tuesday his 70th anniversary. Iohannis wished him ‘happy birthday’ and a long healthy and active life, to instill determination in the young athletes.

The honoree said it was the most beautiful day in his life. “I was born in this country and I will die here,” he said.

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