SYDNEY • Roger Federer has issued a cautiously worded response to mounting criticism, including from teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, over his sponsorship deal with Credit Suisse.
A dozen Swiss activists appeared in court last Tuesday after refusing to pay a fine for playing tennis inside branches of Credit Suisse bank in November 2018.
It was a stunt intended to underscore the 38-year-old Federer's relationship with the Swiss financial giant, which is closely linked with the fossil-fuel industry.
They also held up banners reading: "Credit Suisse is destroying the planet. Roger, do you support them?"
Lawyers for the activists, mostly students, said they were appealing against the fine of 21,600 Swiss francs (S$30,000) on the basis that they were acting as whistle-blowers for the climate emergency.
Protesters with signs gathered outside the courtroom in Lausanne, and the hashtag #RogerWakeUpNow trended on Twitter.
Thunberg, 17, also retweeted the criticism and Federer responded over the weekend, although he stopped short of directly addressing his relationship with Credit Suisse. The 20-time Grand Slam champion said: "I take the impacts and threat of climate change very seriously, particularly as my family and I arrive in Australia amidst devastation from the bush fires.
"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.
"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."
Credit Suisse has said it is "seeking to align its loan portfolios with the objectives of the Paris Agreement" and will not invest in new coal-fired power plants.