What Does Love Mean In Tennis? [Full & Detailed Explain]

The scoring system is the first thing a beginner in tennis needs to learn in order to enjoy a tennis match. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered; you can read our comprehensive guide to tennis scoring here. 

When watching tennis matches, you’ll notice something odd: the frequent use of the word “love” in the scoring system. So, what does love mean in tennis? Continue reading to find out what the correct answer is.

What does love mean in tennis?

What does love mean in tennis
What does love mean in tennis

In the game of tennis, the term “love” refers to a score of zero in a specific game. At the start of a game a tennis match, the score would be announced as love-love rather than zero-zero. There are several theories about the unknown origin of the term “love,” but none of them can be proven true. This means that there is no true understanding of the term’s origin. Some people believe it comes from the colloquial phrase “for love” or from the French word for “egg,” because the zero on a scoreboard resembles an egg.

When announcing a tennis score, zero is completely incorrect because that is not how the score would be announced during a match. A score of zero must be declared as love. This means that a tennis match’s scoring consists of love, 15, 30, 40, and deuce.

# Terminology in tennis

Love gets a zero.

15: only one point

30: 2 points

3 points = 40

Deuce: 3 points each

The score is the ad in, or advantage in when the person serving wins a point at deuce.

When the person serving loses a point a deuce, the score is an ad out, also known as advantage out.

When the score is even by one or two points, players say “all,” as in 15-all or 30-all.

Because the scoring system is unlike that of any other sport, it is natural to be perplexed by anything about it. A common source of misunderstanding is the use of the term “love” in place of the word “zero” during tennis matches. At the start of a tennis match, the score can be said in one of two ways: “love to love” or “love all.”

Since the 1980s, the latter option has almost always been used in tennis matches.

*** Read more: What Does LET Mean In Tennis? 2 Rules On Calling A Let

# Love-All

Love-all is the score when starting a new game
Love-all is the score when starting a new game

The score when starting a new game is technically love-all or zero to zero. When a new game begins, however, players do not report the current game’s score. Instead, in games for the current set, the player serving will state the score.

As a result, players never use the love-all score. The only time that score should be considered is before the first point of a match, which is, once again, unnecessary.

Even though the definition of love is simple, it can still trip up players. Let’s look at some examples with the love score in more detail.

Why is the word “love” used in tennis?

It’s perplexing enough that tennis refers to “zero” as “love,” but where this meaning came from is even more mysterious. Some people believe that saying “love all” when the score is 0-0 is nice because it shows that no one has an advantage. Similar to this theory, the use of “love” when referring to “zero” may indicate a fondness for the game. If a player does not score in the game, the idea is that their score demonstrates that they are not playing to win, but rather for the “love of the game.”

On a different note, some people believe that referring to “zero” as “love” comes from the French word l’oeuf, which means “the egg,” because the number zero resembles an egg.

When should you use love scoring?

When should you use love scoring
When should you use love scoring

In tennis, we only use love scores in a few situations, so let’s look at those. If you were serving, here are the possible scores with love, as you’d be calling out your score first.

  •       15-love
  •       30-love
  •       40-love

Here are the possible love scores if your opponent is serving and they call the score first.

  •       Love-15
  •       Love-30
  •       Love-40

In most games, players will use the term love to express a score of zero.

If you’re playing a set and you win the first three games, it’s perfectly acceptable to declare a three-to-zero score. Calling out the three-love score is also acceptable.

*** Read more: How Does Scoring Work In Tennis? All-to-know About Scoring

Tennis scores with love examples

Let’s walk through a few examples to give you a better understanding of how the score of love works.

Assume you’re going to play two games with a friend, the first of which you’ll serve. Keep in mind that as the server, you will always call out your points first.

  •       You have won the first point: 15-love
  •       The second point is yours: 30-love
  •       You have won the third point: 40-love
  •       You win the fourth point, and thus the game.

Because your friend is now serving in the second game, they will call out their services first.

  •       The first point is yours: love-15.
  •       The second point is yours: love-30.
  •       The third point goes to your friend: 15-30.
  •       The fourth point goes to your friend: 30-all
  •       You get the fifth point (30-40).
  •        The sixth point goes to your friend: deuce.
  •       You get the seventh point for ad out.
  •       The eighth point goes to your friend: deuce.
  •       You get the ninth point for ad out.
  •       You win the following point: game
Tennis scores with love
Tennis scores with love

Frequently Asked Questions

#1. Why is it called 15 love in tennis?

“Love” has no meaning. The server’s score is given first in tennis, so “love-fifteen” means the server has no points and the opponent has fifteen. A tennis game’s score progresses from love to fifteen to thirty to forty game. When both players reach forty, it is referred to as a deuce.

#2. Why is the number 40 all called Deuce?

At 15 and 30, players can be tied, but not after that; 40-all is considered “deuce” because it is a “Deux du jeu” – two points away from winning the game.

#3. In tennis, why is 40 not 45?

The game ended when the hand reached 60. However, the concept of “deuce” was introduced to ensure that a one-point difference in player scores could not win the game. The 45 was changed to 40 to keep the score within the “60” ticks on the clock face.

*** Read more: What Is A Set In Tennis? Full Explanation of Set In Tennis


In conclusion, this post has provided an answer to the question “What does love mean in tennis?”

Since the late 1800s, the word “love” has been used to represent a score of zero in tennis. It’s unclear how this usage of love came about, but the most widely accepted theory is that those with zero points were still playing for the “love of the game” despite their loss.


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