(Reuters) – Roger Federer has responded to criticism from teenaged climate change activist Greta Thunberg, saying he is “happy to be reminded” of his responsibilities.
The Swiss 20-times Grand Slam champion came under fire from Swede Thunberg last week when she criticized bank Credit Suisse for its record of loans to fossil fuel industries.
Federer, who has a sponsorship deal with Credit Suisse, was urged to “wake up” in a Twitter post by Thunberg last week.
The 38-year-old, preparing for the Australian Open, issued a statement saying he had a “great deal of respect and admiration” for the youth climate movement inspired by Thunberg.
“I take the impacts and threat of climate change very seriously, particularly as my family and I arrive in Australia amidst devastation from the bushfires,” Federer said.
“As the father of four young children and a fervent supporter of universal education, I have a great deal of respect and admiration for the youth climate movement, and I am grateful to young climate activists for pushing us all to examine our behaviors and act on innovative solutions.
“We owe it to them and ourselves to listen. I appreciate reminders of my responsibility as a private individual, as an athlete and as an entrepreneur, and I’m committed to using this privileged position to dialogue on important issues with my sponsors.”
Federer will join other top players including Serena Williams at charity event Rally for Relief in Melbourne next week, raising funds for the efforts to tackle the devastating bushfires that have killed at least 28 people, destroyed hundreds of homes and decimated wildlife.
Credit Suisse says it is committed to leading the way in supporting its clients in the transition to low-carbon and climate-resilient business models and recently announced in the context of its global climate strategy that it will no longer invest in new coal-fired power plants.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond)