The Rio Open strengthens its social initiatives as the years go by. We directly support five social projects of the city of Rio de Janeiro. They receive balls that have been used during the tournament, practice material and tennis lessons with the presence of professional players. Every year, 62 children are selected to be ball kids. In 2018, 15 of them were called to participate in the tournament backstage activities. Furthermore, their students take part in the Winners tournament, held in the Rio Open courts, giving its winners prizes such as a week of training at the IMG Academy, in the US, and participation in the Copa Guga Kuerten.
More than 600 students from Rio’s public schools in the cities of Japeri, Duque de Caxias, Sao Joao de Meriti, Cordeiro and several neighbourhoods such as Campo Grande and Copabacana, besides communities like Rocinha and Complexo do Alemão had the opportunity to visit the Rio Open.
People with disabilities also were invited to the tournament. Moreover, some of them had contact with the sport for the first time. The Rio Open made the first tennis clinic for people with disabilities during the event: 19 participants, nine in wheelchairs, six with Down Syndrome and other four with light intellectual disabilities. The event had the participation of the 19-time Grand Slam champion Maria Esther Bueno, in one of her last appearances before passing away in June.
In November 2018, Fedex brought two teens from these projects to be ball kids in the ATP Finals in London, the tournament that closes the season. Guilherme Fernandes, 14, and Vitória Almeida, 14, joined a select team of 26 ball kids and had the chance to participate in matches of legends like Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.
More details about the social projects we support:
Located in the neighbourhood of Pilares, in the north side of Rio, the project was created by Artur Ricardo and exists since 2011. Approximately 40 kids from 7 to 17 years old, students in public schools, have free tennis lessons. The court – adapted from futsal to tennis – is below the Pilares bridge. Besides learning the sport, they also receive classes of etiquette, English and Portuguese, uniforms, materials and food.
Project Tenis na Lagoa is an initiative of private tennis teacher Alexandre Borges and exists since 2003, supporting over 2,500 children. Every year, young people from several communities participate in the classes taking place at the courts by the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon. Those who have the best performance play in several competitions in the whole country. Beyond forehands and backhands, Tenis na Lagoa wants to promote human development, social inclusion and the integration between young people and their families through tennis, promoting a better quality of life.
The Futuro Bom Institute helps 260 kids, using tennis to get the best out of each one of them, having education as the main priority. It follows the American universities principle that every kid needs to stay in school and participate in all practices and courses to stay in the project.
The project was created through a partnership between the Sports State Secretary and the Brazilian tennis player Fabiano de Paula in 2015, in the Rocinha community. Currently, the school has approximately 200 students playing tennis every day. Fabiano, who grew up in Rocinha, inaugurated the court in 2002 alongside Novak Djokovic. It is destined to kids and teens of the community and those who show special talent can practice in the Tennis Route academy, one of the most important tennis training centers of the country.
Project Arremessar para o Futuro helps 26 kids from three communities in Rio. Its main goal is transforming citizens through sport and education, giving them the chance to practice, gain points in the rankings and later apply for a scholarship in universities abroad. The project is supported by Instituto Kinder of Brazil and helds a stage of the Brazilian Juniors Championship.