Decoding Tennis Scoring: Explaining the Origins of ’40 Love’ in Tennis

by Jenny Byrne

If you’re new to tennis, there may be some terminology that is unfamiliar to you, like the word “love.” In tennis, love is not a positive term, unlike in other games. So what does it actually mean? And why is the score 40 love in tennis? In this article, we will explore and provide answers to these questions to help clarify any confusion you may have.

What is the meaning of ’40 love’ in tennis scoring?

In tennis, the term ‘love’ is used to refer to a score of zero. The origin of this term comes from the similarity between the shape of the number zero and an egg. In sports, zero or naught scores are often referred to as goose or duck eggs. 

The French word for egg is “l’oeuf,” which sounds similar to the English word ‘love.’ Hence, the term ‘love’ is used to refer to a score of zero in tennis. It’s important to keep in mind that understanding the scoring system is crucial for winning games in tennis.

Why 40 Love In Tennis? - An Ultimate Explanation


Why is the term ’15 Love’ used in tennis scoring?

Tennis scoring can be confusing for beginners. In this sport, the scoring system is different from most other games. In tennis, a score of ‘0’ means that the server hasn’t scored any points, while ‘15’ means that one point has been scored. When a player scores without the opponent scoring, it is called ‘love’. For example, a score of ’15-love’ means that the server has scored one point while the opponent hasn’t scored yet. This unique scoring system is part of what makes tennis such a fascinating game.

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Understanding the Scoring System in Tennis

The scoring system in tennis has a rich history that has evolved over time. However, the original system can be difficult to understand, and the meaning behind the scores can be lost on players and fans alike. According to Elizabeth Wilson, author of Love Game: A History of Tennis, from Victorian Pastime to Global Phenomenon, many romantic theories have been developed around the scoring system, which has added to its mystique. While the exact origins of the scoring system are unknown, there are many fascinating theories that add to the allure and legend of the sport.

Why is Tennis Scored Using a Unique Scoring System?

The scoring system in tennis is not as straightforward as in other sports. The numbers used, such as 15, 30, and 40, may have originated from an old French clock face. For example, the 15 is approximately at a quarter past, while the 30 represents half past. Similarly, 45 is when you’re at a quarter to.

However, to prevent someone from winning by just one point, the score was changed from 45 to 40, making it feel more intuitive to end a game on 41. Despite the origins of the scoring system being uncertain, it remains an integral part of the game that requires players to win by a margin of two or more points.

Why is the Tennis Scoring System Using 40 Instead of 45?

In tennis, the game must end when the score reaches 60. However, the concept of deuce was introduced to prevent a game from ending with a one-point difference in scores. Deuce is equivalent to 45 on the clock and will only change if a player scores more than 40 points. This prevents the game from going into overtime and ensures that the winner of the game has a clear advantage over their opponent.

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Why is the term ‘Love’ used in Tennis scoring?

In tennis, scores can seem a bit confusing at first. For example, if the server has not won a point and their opponent has 15 points, the score is 15-0 (or zero). Another way to say no points is “love.”
So if the server has one point and their opponent has zero points, the score is “one-zero.” The objective of tennis is to win two or more sets out of a possible three. Scores progress from “love” (or zero) to 15 to 30 to 40. When both sides have no score at the beginning of the match, the score is called “love-love.”
Some people think that “love” comes from the French word “l’oeuf,” which means “egg,” since a zero on the scoreboard looks like an egg. The game enters the “deuce” stage once both players have scored 40 points. To win a game from deuce, a player must score two consecutive points.

What is the meaning of “Bagel” in Tennis?

In tennis, a score of 6-0 is referred to as a “bagel” because the “0” resembles the hole in a bagel. This term is particularly fitting when a player wins the first five games of a match, making the zero appear like a half-eaten bagel. Professional tennis commonly uses the term “bagel,” while “bagger” is a more commonly used term in amateur matches. Understanding these tennis terms can be helpful for fans and players alike to better understand the sport’s unique language and culture.

Mysteries of the Tennis Scoring System - spyn

Why Do Tennis Players Call It a Let and What Does It Mean?

In tennis, a “let” occurs when the ball hits something and doesn’t go over the net, but bounces back into the court. Another instance when a point is repeated is when the racquet hits the front wall in squash, and neither player touches it.

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The concept of “let” in tennis is straightforward. It grants the replay of a point when one player suffers an unfair deficit, not caused by them. The goal is to ensure fairness and impartiality in a game that is essentially competitive.

In Conclusion

We hope that this post has been helpful in answering your question about the meaning behind the tennis scoring system. Tennis is a fantastic sport that requires a combination of physical and mental abilities. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced player, the game of tennis can offer many opportunities for growth and enjoyment. 

If you have any other questions about tennis or any other topics, please feel free to leave a comment, and we will be happy to help you. 

Thank you for reading, and we wish you all the best in your tennis endeavors!

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