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The Origins of Tennis Scoring

Myths and hearsay surround the tennis scoring system. Why was the game worth 60 points? Remember, it used to be love, 15, 30, 45, game! It is believed that the 60 points has to do with the 60 minutes on the face of a clock (well, clocks used to have faces). Another theory is that the use of 15 as increments in tennis scoring is related to the use of fifteen in French currency of the time. Why? Because both players and spectators bet heavily on matches and the betting was done in multiples of fifteen. In the old days the game of tennis was likened to horse-racing. How times have changed!

So, what about the words ‘love’, ‘deuce’ and ‘service’? ‘Love is believed to have originated from ‘l’oeuf’, the French word for egg ; its oval shape suggested zero. ‘Deuce’ is believed to have come from ‘deux’, the French word for two; it would take two consecutive points to win the game. The word ‘Service’ is believed to have come from Henry VIII; he used man-servants to put the ball in play! A man-servant would certainly help my service!

Check back for more on the origins of the game of tennis!