Italian MPs united for Africa
In June 2010, the Parlamentari for Africa charity tournament in which Italian MPs faced Italian tennis legends was played in San Donato (Milan). The intention of Tennis for Africa –the charity that hosted the tournament– was to raise funds for fighting AIDS and malnutrition in several African countries. Two teams faced each other on two brand-new courts; the MPs’ team, captained by Democrat Pierluigi Mantini and featuring Centre-Right MP Gianantonio Arnoldi despite his shoulder injury, was up against former players like 1982 World No. 26 Pedro Rebolledo, 1986 World No. 60 Simone Colombo, 1990 WTA No. 39 Laura Golarsa, as well as four wonderkids –Filippo Baldi, who was the best U15 player at the time; Giulio Beatrice, who was 14 too; as well as Alessia d’Auria and Vittoria Beolchi, two U12 girls. Italian iconic umpire Romano Grillotti refereed the match. Grillotti was an umpire from 1984 to 2007; he refereed the 1999 Pete Sampras v Andre Agassi Masters final. It did not matter who won the match. A part of the funds raised were donated to the DREAM (Drug Resource Enhancement Against AIDS and Malnutrition) project for treating AIDS in Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea-Conakry, and Angola. The rest was donated to the Shisong hospital in Cameroon, which was the only hospital in the country where heart surgery was performed.
This tournament inspired the new generation; in 2019, Matteo Berrettini hosted a big lottery for Tennis for Africa. You could win signed tee-shirts and posters, as well as a trip for two in Monaco, where you could even practise and have dinner with Berrettini at the Monte-Carlo Country Club. “We athletes enjoy what we do,” he said back then. “Our sport is our job, but also our passion. Using it to help those in need brings even bigger value to charity.”.