What Love Means In Tennis

The tennis terminology is confusing, so it’s only natural for new tennis players to confuse love and the point system.

So, what does love mean in tennis? We’re going to shed some light on tennis’s commonly most-confused term for a new player in games. Let’s find out what love means in a match.

What Love Means in Tennis Scoring

In tennis scores, people have noticed that both sides have no score or no points at the start of the games, love – love on the scoreboard. It is because the term love is considered as zero or nil in the game of tennis. 

A point against the opposing player brings you to 15. The next point is 30, and the third point is 40. The player who gets the next point wins the game.

However, if there is a need for a series of tiebreakers, then there are many things that take place. To win a match, the player needs to have a win by two margins.

tennis score

Origin of the Term

term origin

There’s not a universally accepted theory by the people on where the origin of love is, but there are popular theories of the term tennis love that have surfaced, which is often discussed in friendly games. 

The Oxford English Dictionary means love comes from the phrase to play for love (1). The popular theory derives from the sport history of etiquette and sportsmanship. It also means the player plays for the love of it without stakes being wagered. 

Another popular theory means of love comes from the French word for egg, which is l’oeuf. The reason is that the number zero on a scoreboard has the shape of an egg. While it is a clever claim, there is no proof to back it up, and the rest is history.

It does not matter what the origin of the term is. If there’s anything we can get from this is that a player has to avoid the word “love” in tennis by all means. 

The famous saying states love is nothing in tennis. A tennis player needs to get away from the score of love in tennis matches to enjoy the game with other players.

How & When To Use Love


You are the Server

If you are the server, it’s essential to keep in mind that your score, in this case, will always come first. 

Normally, the server is responsible for calling out the score before each point, so do that to keep you and your rival checking the scoring. 

It is beneficial when it’s a practice tennis match against a rivalring player and there is no one on the scoreboard taking note of the scores. 

Opponent is the Server

If the other player is the server, then the score of the player will be the first one to be called out. However, if the opposing player is not calling out the score, you can do it yourself. 

Even if you’re the one calling out the game score, you still have to call the server’s score first. For example, if the first point goes to you, the score is love – 15. In other words, it’s zero – 15.

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Here are a Few Examples

We’re going to give you a few more contexts of the tennis scoring system by using some examples.

Assuming you are set to play two games with the other player, and you begin the first game serving, you are going to call out your score first eve

  • The first point goes to you: 15 – love 
  • You have two points: 30 – love
  • The third point goes to you: 40 – love
  • The fourth point goes to you: First game is yours

In the second game, your friend is now serving first. They will call out their score first this time.

  • The first point goes to you: love – 15 
  • You have two points: love – 30
  • The third point goes to your friend: 15 – 30 
  • You have four points: 15 – 40
  • The fifth point goes to you: You win the game

What Does Love Mean in Tennis - In Conclusion

At the end of the day, what love means in tennis is having a score of zero. You have to earn one point to the next point until you have won the points to win the game. 

We can derive from this that players, even dating many years ago, play for the love of the game even if it means settling with the score of zero.

Of course, for competitive players, the only way you can win the match is to stay away from the score of love as much as you can to win the scoring system as it is the equivalent of zero.


  1. https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803100116106

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