By Lew Blaustein, GreenSportsBlog
Dominic Thiem has steadily moved towards the top of the men’s tennis rankings, currently residing at number four, just below the legendary trio of Djokovic, Nadal and Federer. Many tennis observers think that 2019 will be the year Austrian breaks through and wins his first Grand Slam tournament.
If so, casual tennis fans will learn what real aficionados already know — that Thiem is an eco-athlete.
DOMINIC THIEM WRITES A UNIQUE GREEN-SPORTS STORY — ON CAMERA LENSES
If you are not a serious tennis fan you might not be familiar with Dominic Thiem (pronounced TEAM).
You should be, for both on- and off-court reasons.
Thiem is currently the fourth ranked player in the men’s game, trailing only #1 Novak Djokovic, #2 Rafa Nadal, and #3 Roger Federer. And since the three legends above him are between six and twelve years his senior, Thiem is in a very promising spot.
The first part of 2019 has been very good for the 25-year-old Austrian. He won the prestigious BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, California, beating Federer in the final. And last week, he reached the semifinals of the Mutua Madrid Open, defeating Federer in a terrific quarterfinal before falling to eventual champion Djokovic. Thiem has the all-surface game that make him a threat at the three remaining 2019 grand slam championships, starting in two weeks with the French Open at Paris’ Roland Garros.
Off the court, Thiem has become one of men’s tennis’ foremost eco-athletes, along with world #8 Kevin Anderson. Both have honed in on the plastic ocean waste issue.
Thiem supports the work of 4Ocean, a nonprofit founded by two surfers that removes plastics from the oceans and other waterways. It sustains itself by selling bracelets made from that waste. 4Ocean reports that, in just two years, they and their teams of fishermen and others, have removed over four million pounds of trash from the oceans and coastlines.
In addition to donning the 4Ocean bracelets, Thiem has used a yellow marker to great effect in publicizing his passion for cleaning up the oceans.
Signing a television camera lens has been a thing for winners of tennis matches for the better part of two decades. The networks almost always give air time to these signatures. Thiem has taken to signing camera lenses around the world with a “Play For the Ocean” message. The image above (Photo credit: Amazon Prime) was taken immediately after he won the championship at Indian Wells.
While we don’t have TV ratings data for either tournament, it’s safe to say that the Play For The Ocean message has reached millions. That number stands to increase dramatically should Thiem make a deep run in Paris.
GSB’s Take: Dominic Thiem’s practice of signing “Play For The Ocean” on a TV camera after winning a match — while seeming like a small, cute thing — is actually a big deal.
Tennis is one of the world’s five most popular spectator sports so having a Top Five player make a clear, positive statement on behalf of environmental action can seep into fan consciousness. By signing “Play For The Ocean” every time he wins a match, Thiem is building frequency for his message. This is crucial for building awareness “Play For The Ocean” among tennis fans, which will ultimately help the message break through.
Hopefully, we’re not that far away from Thiem or another top player writing something like “Price Carbon” or “Act On Climate” on a camera lens after every win.