Fans of tennis are in for a treat at this May’s Italian Open. The organizers have announced that they plan to transform Rome’s famous Piazza del Popolo into an open-air tennis court for the tournament.
According to the head of the Italian Tennis Federation, Angelo Binaghi, the historic square will host pre-qualifying matches. The tournament itself begins on 7 May and runs until 20 May. It will take place as usual, on the clay courts of the Foro Italico by the Olympic Stadium.
The Piazza del Popolo is one of the ancient gateways to the city. It is Situated at the beginning of the Via Flaminia, a Roman road leading to Rimini. It would have been the main entrance, and the first view of the city, for most travelers entering Rome.
Italian Open Transforms Roman Piazza
While it is still unclear if the matches that will take place at the pedestrian piazza will be ticketed or free to all, some have expressed concern over potential damage to a Roman landmark. They instead asked that the organizers move it to one of the often overlooked landmarks just outside the city.
In past years, the Piazza del Popolo has been the site of free viewings of sports events broadcast on giant TV screens, as well as of sporting celebrations. Many top tennis players have already been confirmed for this year’s Italian Open, including Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, and Rafael Nadal, who has won the tournament a record seven times.
Founded in 1930, the annual Italian Open, also known as Internazionali BNL d’Italia, is the second-biggest European clay court championships after the French Open. The pre-qualifying round is scheduled to begin on 5 May.