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Miami Open sponsor Itaú hosts inaugural 'First Serve' with Brazilian Rafael Padilha

Miami Open sponsor Itaú hosts inaugural 'First Serve' with Brazilian Rafael Padilha

With a solid, long-lasting partnership of 17 years, Itaú Unibanco recently announced the renewal of its sponsorship contract for the Miami Open that will last until 2028. The bank remains the presenting sponsor of the next five editions, maintaining the “presented by Itaú” category. 

To celebrate this feat, a new tradition was introduced in the tournament this year: the First Serve — the first inaugural serve in the history of tennis to be struck by athlete Rafael Padilha, from the Rede Tênis Brasil (Tennis Brazil Network) project, supported by Itaú Unibanco. This initiative marked the beginning of the tournament.

Above: Rafael Padilha. Photo: Miami Open presented by Itaú. Photo credit: Gabo Bucheli.

Born in the city of Porto Alegre, Padilha took up tennis at just nine years of age and had his first contact with the sport through this initiative. The eldest of seven siblings, Padilha was the top player in the state ranking for two successive years in the under 12, 14, 16 and 18 categories, playing in Brazilian and ITF Juniors tournaments, such as the Banana Bowl and the Brazil Juniors Cup.

In 2023, Padilha went into the backstage area of the Miami Open tournament, practiced on its courts, and met some of his idols - including Carlos Alcaraz, currently the world’s number 2, and Brazilians Bia Haddad and Thiago Monteiro. The path taken by this young man has led him directly into a position of major responsibility at the Miami Open: the tournament’s first serve, an unprecedented feat in the history of world tennis.

Above: Rafael Padilha. Photo: Miami Open presented by Itaú. Photo credit: Gabo Bucheli.

“He’s not only a talented competitor on the courts, but also a young man who understands the importance of dedication and education to progress. We are proud, here at Itaú, to support projects that boost opportunities through sport”, says Eduardo Tracanella, Itaú Unibanco’s Chief Marketing Officer.

“We believe that sport has the power to change people's lives. That’s why it’s such a strong pillar of activity at Itaú. Our support ranges from projects that use sport as a means to develop Brazilian children and youngsters to those focused on high performance, such as the Miami Open. We support social actions such as Rede Tenis Brasil, Bola Dentro (Ball In), Instituto Guga Kuerten and Tenis para Todos Paraisópolis (Tennis for all Paraisópolis). We are also proud to support the talented Brazilian tennis player Bia Haddad since 2023, showcasing our commitment to helping the sport grow in Brazil and promoting the development of young athletes”, adds Tracanella.

Above: Rafael Padilha. Photo: Miami Open presented by Itaú. Photo credit: Gabo Bucheli.

“Itaú has been an exceptional partner for the Miami Open over the past 15 years including as a presenting sponsor since 2015, and it has been a critical part in the evolution of the tournament. We’re thrilled to continue our relationship with them for an additional four years, and we look forward to working together to foster further growth and innovation for this milestone event,” said Josh Ripple, Senior Vice President, Tennis Events, IMG.

Itaú Unibanco's relationship with tennis dates back to the 1970s, with Itaú Tennis Cup, and aims to operate in all areas of the sport: educational, youth development and high performance. By renewing this commitment, the bank reaffirms its support for the values and traditions of sport in Brazil, consolidating its presence in the international tennis arena and showcasing mutual trust and determination to promote high-performance tennis.

Above: Rafael Padilha. Photo: Miami Open presented by Itaú. Photo credit: Gabo Bucheli.

This year, Itaú Personnalité's presence at the Miami Open has been expanded with an exclusive lounge with a view of the main courts, equipped with a bar, tables, armchairs to relax and the presence of a DJ, as well as an interactive photo space and tennis clinics with top players.

Editor's Note: To check out our exclusive interview with Rafael Padilha check out our article by Florida Tennis contributor Adam Ross.


Source: Miami Open presented by Itaú

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