Roland Garros in Race to Finish Paris 2024 Makeover 

French Open Preview - Roland Garros, Paris, France - May 17, 2022 General view of outside courts ahead of the French Open. (Reuters)
French Open Preview - Roland Garros, Paris, France - May 17, 2022 General view of outside courts ahead of the French Open. (Reuters)

Roland Garros in Race to Finish Paris 2024 Makeover 

French Open Preview - Roland Garros, Paris, France - May 17, 2022 General view of outside courts ahead of the French Open. (Reuters)
French Open Preview - Roland Garros, Paris, France - May 17, 2022 General view of outside courts ahead of the French Open. (Reuters)

As the sun set on the French Open and Spain's Carlos Alcaraz celebrated Sunday's triumph a new race got underway at Roland Garros to transform the iconic red clay courts into dazzling Olympic venues in a matter of weeks.

Chosen back in 2016 to be one of the 41 sites for the Paris 2024 Olympics, Roland Garros now faces the exacting task of complying with the meticulous standards set by the International Olympic Committee and Paris 2024 organizers.

The clock is ticking, with six weeks to turn the Grand Slam tennis site into a stage worthy of the world’s biggest sporting extravaganza.

The transition will require a "clean venue," where all distinctive Roland Garros marks are hidden and replaced by the Olympic rings and the host city’s logo.

Christophe Fagniez, deputy director general of the French Tennis Federation overseeing the Olympics project, describes the transformation as a blend of "camouflage and exhibition."

By July 20, when athletes start training, Roland Garros will be awash in the vibrant colors of the Olympic Games.

First, the tournament team must dismantle food stands, entertainment corners and anything branded with Roland Garros that can be removed.

The Olympic makeover will ramp up until mid-July. After that, a comprehensive security check will pave the way for the arrival of the athletes.

While the six-week timeline is more generous than the three weeks allotted for the transformation of Wimbledon for the London 2012 Games, the challenge remains immense.

"We have very, very little time to do it," Fagniez said. "Roland Garros spans 12 hectares with 12 courts. Other venues might have a single field of play, maybe two or three, but we have 12."

Inside the courts, over 250 items need replacing, from the umpires' chairs to the LED advertisements, which will be swapped out for tarpaulins sporting the Olympics look.

Despite the extensive makeover, some familiar elements will remain. The statue of 14-times champion Rafael Nadal will stay, a comforting sight for fans, though the Spaniard's participation at the Games is uncertain after his early French Open exit.

Even as the Philippe-Chatrier Court adopts its Olympic colors, its distinctive moucharaby wall bearing the name of Roland Garros will remain visible. The iconic "RG" logo will also stay on the thousands of seats across the courts.

"It’s a stadium with great historical and sporting power, so we couldn’t erase everything," Fagniez explains.

After the tennis tournament, the main Philippe-Chatrier Court will undergo yet another transformation to host the Olympic boxing finals over five evenings, marking the end of an extraordinary summer for this storied venue.

Italian Coaches are Dominating the Dugouts at Euro 2024. The Coaching School is the Reason Why

Italian Coach Luciano Spalletti - File/The AP
Italian Coach Luciano Spalletti - File/The AP

Italian Coaches are Dominating the Dugouts at Euro 2024. The Coaching School is the Reason Why

Italian Coach Luciano Spalletti - File/The AP
Italian Coach Luciano Spalletti - File/The AP

Italy continues a tradition at the European Championship with Italian coaches — this time five — in charge of national teams at the tournament in Germany.

Italy coach Luciano Spalletti is joined by Vincenzo Montella (Turkey), Domenico Tedesco (Belgium), Marco Rossi (Hungary) and Francesco Calzona (Slovakia).

With five of the 24 teams in Germany led by Italians, this tops the Netherlands’ mark of having three coaches — out of 16 teams — at Euro 2008.

All but Tedesco studied at the Italian federation’s coaching school, which is directed by former coach Renzo Ulivieri, who is also the president of the Italian soccer coaches’ association, The AP reported.

“It is a great source of pride for all of Italian soccer and especially for our coaching school,” Ulivieri said in an interview with The Associated Press.

“We think that our coaches are excellent, for two reasons: ours is a good school and then the coaches have a very educational apprenticeship within our leagues, both in the professional leagues but also in the amateur ones, where tactics play a huge part.”

The strength is evident not only in the national teams but also at the club level. Carlo Ancelotti, one of the most famous Italian coaches, won his fifth Champions League title this month when Real Madrid beat Borussia Dortmund 2-0 in the final.

Atalanta, under Gian Piero Gasperini, won the Europa League, beating Leverkusen 3-0. Only Fiorentina's narrow 1-0 loss to Olympiakos in the Europa Conference League final under coach Vincenzo Italiano prevented Italian managers from sweeping the European titles.

“The secret (to Italian managerial success) is our predisposition to the art of making the best out of everything, even in difficult situations,” Ulivieri added. “An Italian-Neapolitan art, which is often useful in being a coach.”

Luciano Spalletti The best known of the Italian coaches at the tournament, Spalletti also got the highest marks.

Spalletti attended the FIGC’s coaching school in 1998-99 and graduated with the maximum grade attainable: 110 cum laude. He wrote his thesis on “The 3-5-2 playing system.”

Spalletti took charge of Italy last year, shortly after quitting Napoli. He led the southern team to its first Serie A title in more than three decades.

That also ended a lengthy wait for his first Italian league title despite coaching teams such as Inter Milan and Roma. He won Italian Cup titles with Roma in 2007 and 2008 and then Russian league trophies with Zenit St. Petersburg in 2010 and 2012.

The 65-year-old Spalletti has brought his all-attacking style and flair to a reinvigorated Italy.

However, the Azzurri have had a stuttering start to their title defense. Italy beat Albania 2-1 in their opening match before being completely outclassed in a 1-0 loss to Spain.

Vincenzo Montella Montella was also one of the top students in class, with a final mark of 110/110 at the end of his course in 2011.

Montella took charge of Turkey’s national team last year but has been living in the country since 2021 as coach of Super Lig team Adana Demirspor.

The 50-year-old had previously coached Fiorentina, AC Milan and Sampdoria among others in his native country as well as Sevilla in Spain. His only trophy as coach was the Italian Super Cup with Milan.

Montella was a prolific forward during his playing career and helped Italy to the Euro 2000 final.

“As a student at the school, Montella was exactly like he was when he was a player: a stellar kid, also studious,” Ulivieri said.

Turkey won its opener 3-1 against debutant Georgia but Montella's team will face a much tougher task against Portugal on Saturday.

Francesco Calzona Slovakia may be Calzona’s first job as head coach but the 55-year-old has had an impressive apprenticeship.

Calzona was assistant coach to Maurizio Sarri at Napoli from 2015-18. He was also part of Spalletti’s staff at the Serie A team and helped lay the foundation for its run to the league title.

Calzona left in August 2022, before the title-winning season, when former Napoli and Slovakia captain Marek Hamsik — who holds his country’s appearance and goalscoring records — suggested he take over as the coach of Slovakia’s national team.

After steering Slovakia to Euro 2024, Calzona was given his first senior role at club level when Napoli turned to him in February as its third coach in a disastrous season. He was given a contract for the remainder of the season and allowed to do both jobs.

Slovakia pulled off the biggest shock of Euro 2024 so far when it beat Belgium in their opener. It lost its second group match to Ukraine.

Marco Rossi After several years of coaching in the lower leagues of Italian soccer and then finding himself without a club for a year, Rossi considered joining his brother’s accountancy firm.

But a chance meeting with the sporting director of Honved at a restaurant in Budapest led to him to take charge of the Hungarian team.

The 59-year-old Rossi had two spells with Honved and led the team to its first Hungarian league title in 24 years in 2017. He also coached a Slovakian team before being appointed Hungary coach in July 2018.

Rossi steered Hungary to Euro 2020 but lost its opener to Portugal and was eliminated at the group stage despite impressive draws against France and Germany.

Hungary lost both its matches so far at this year's tournament, to Switzerland and Germany.

Domenico Tedesco The youngest of the Italian coaches, Tedesco was also the only one not to study at the federation’s coaching school.

The 38-year-old Italian-German was appointed as Belgium coach in February last year but has quickly built a solid and entertaining team that was unbeaten in his tenure until the shock loss to Slovakia.

Tedesco emigrated from Italy to Germany with his family when he was 2 years old. He began his coaching career with the youth squads at Stuttgart when he was just 22, while also working at the Mercedes factory.

Tedesco obtained his coaching license in Germany and was top in a class that included current Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann. He coached the senior teams at Schalke, Spartak Moscow and Leipzig, which he led to the German Cup in 2022.