I have always believed that Tennis should be a positive contributing force in society and that Tennis is one of the best sports for developing life skills, promoting good social behaviour and contributing to the general health and well-being of society. Through the successful Tennis Play and Stay Campaign that I helped to introduce in 2007, tennis was positioned as healthy and I was proud of the research on health benefits of tennis and the related articles that I co-authored which were published in the British Journal of Sports medicine that proved that tennis was physically beneficial.
Last week I had the privilege to meet up with former US Vice President, Al Gore, in Oporto when I attended a climate change conference taking place there. The conference was organised by former tennis player and coach, Pancho Campo. In our 30 minute meeting Mr. Gore and I discussed the various challenges facing the world regarding climate change and how tennis, at every level, might be able to contribute going forward to support efforts to combat climate change.
I am aware that the Tennis industry is already conscious of the need to be more proactive and many of the top tennis tournaments are already being proactive with the US open now positioning itself as the “Green Slam” and ball companies recycling ball cans and tennis balls. I know that many top players, including Kevin Anderson, are also actively promoting environmental concerns and proactive actions related to the environment. Only 22 million of the 325 million tennis balls manufactured each are currently recycled and there is much more that can be done.
The former Vice President and I discussed some of the ways that the sport of tennis could do more. I learned a lot in this short time with him and I assured him that, if elected ITF President, I would do my utmost to encourage the tennis industry, tournaments and top players to support the great work that he and his colleagues are doing. It was an honour to spend time with Vice President Gore and I appreciated the time he gave me from his busy schedule. He is a truly charismatic individual and his presentation, to conclude the two day conference, was powerful, passionate and impactful on all in attendance in highlighting the need for immediate action to protect our world for future generations.