Life Imitates Art: Paul, Fritz, and Opelka and “The Oath of the Horatii”

From left to right in the picture above:

  1. Tommy Paul, Taylor Fritz, Reilly Opelka. 
  2. French Open Junior Champion, US Open Junior Champion, Wimbledon Junior Champion.
  3. Great mover, Big serve and groundies, Bunyanesque serve.
  4. Teenage Trouble Maker, Video Games Guru, Contemporary Art Collector.

When I saw this fantastic photo from @zootennis on twitter, I immediately thought of Jacque Louis David’s famous Oath of the Horatii (below), a work I have taught countless times as a touchstone of neoclassicism: balance and symmetry, clarity of form, reason over emotion . . .  

Jacques-Louis David, “Oath of the Horatii” Image from Wikipedia

Both treat the theme of Patriotism: The sacrificing of one’s life for one’s country in the “Oath of the Horatii,” and the idea of representing and supporting your country on the athletic field of international competition.

Both are clearly divided into groups of three: The three roman arches that divide “The Oath of the Horatii” into three distinct groups—men, women, father and swords–and the photograph of the three tennis players marked by 3 painted letters–USA–in red, white, and blue.

Both contain rising heights that guide our eyes upward: the three rising right arms of the Horattii brothers—which guide our eyes upward toward the swords at the center of the painting–and the more dramatic rising heights of the three US tennis champions.

Kudos to Colette Lewis for capturing a candid moment that mirrors in so many ways a famous work of art.

About ZooTennis: Edited by Colette Lewis, ZooTennis has long been regarded as the leading blog/website on junior and college tennis. If you want to stay current with the junior tennis world, you can check out or subscribe to ZooTennis here. You can also follow ZooTennis on twitter.

To get weekly posts every Thursday with original art and innovative writing on tennis, please subscribe below:

Happy to announce that this blog has been named one of Feedspot’s top tennis blogs, websites & influencers.

Leave a Reply