The 62-year-old was presented with the honour by French ambassador Henri Paul, who acclaimed Nastase’s “impressive sporting career” and “the sense of spectacle” he created when playing.
“The French public, because of your relaxed and friendly relationship with them, have adopted you and love you as one of their own,” Paul said, after speaking about Nastase’s career and his 1973 triumph at the French Open.
“This medal comes from a country which is not my own but which I love,” Nastase said. “If I have to share this award with anyone, it’s with Ion (Tiriac),” he added, in reference to his former doubles partner who was present at the ceremony.
Nastase retired from tennis in 1985 at the age of 39, having won 87 singles titles during his career. — AFP