2015 : Aces of Heart

Jul 4, 2023, 6:14:03 PM

When every ace turns into money

Prior to his lethal pendulum move, there was his posture, with his super long legs stretched out like a bow, his racket in a flat angle, and his butt bent backwards. Then, Ivo Karlovic used to swing his left arm to hit the yellow ball before throwing his body forward to give full power to this piece of rubber going down on the Roland-Garros clay. The opponent could do nothing but wait for the sentence. On 24 May 2009, Karlovic set a record by hitting 55 aces in a single French Open match, though he lost this first round clash to Australian player Lleyton Hewitt. His record has not been taken since, though Mélanie Martin hopes it gets broken every year. She grew up in Choisy-le-Roi, in the Val-de-Marne department, and has been a BNP Paribas employee for 17 years. She also founded Les  Aces du Cœur (Aces of Heart) in 2015. This charity initiative has been implemented in every BNP Paribas sponsored competition; it turns every ace scored into money which is donated to a local children’s hospital. “The idea is that we support all forms of tennis –amateur tennis, professional tennis, and wheelchair tennis,” she says. “Back then, we sponsored associations, but we didn’t have a specific BNP Paribas programme.” Mélanie Martin has decided to focus on serves. In 2022, every ace hit in the French Open earnt €100 for Hôpital Robert-Debré. The 375  aces hit in the 2022 Open 13 in Marseille earnt €18,750 for Hôpital La Timone and the Assami association –which aims at making theatre accessible for all.

Les Aces de Cœur has raised over €900,000 since 2015; it has funded over 60  renovation projects and financed equipment for hospitals in Rennes, Metz, and Bordeaux. The programme has also partnered with the wheelchair tennis French championship, the Queen’s Open, the BNP Paribas US Open as well as several wheelchair tennis tournaments. The association has also got players visiting children in hospital. “We took Mary Pierce, the Bryan brothers and Guy Forget in an oncology centre where they  met children. It was such a slap in the face; it was a life lesson.”