My colleague Timothy asked this question over breakfast the other day and I found it interesting. Because I’ve learned and been playing tennis for years now and I didn’t not know the answer.
But now I do ( So Timo, here’s your answer)
So apparently, there are a few theories that explains this method of scoring only peculiar to tennis.
The origins of the 15, 30, 40 have medieval and French roots. One possible explanation is that the scoring system is based on the presence of a clock face at the end of the tennis court.
A quarter move of the hand was made after each rest, with the score being called as 15, 30, or 45 as the case might be. As the hand was moved to 60, making the complete circuit, this was the game.
However, it was realized that the game could then be won by luck, and so the idea of “deuce” was introduced. In order to make the score still within the “”sixty”" ticks on the clock face, the forty-five was changed to forty.
Therefore, if both players have forty, the first player to score receives ten and that moves the clock to fifty. If the player scores a second time before the opponent is able to score, they are awarded another ten and the clock moves to sixty. The sixty signifies the end of the game.
But if a player fails to score twice in a row, then the clock would move back to forty to establish another “deuce“. The word “deuce” is derived from French deux meaning two more points.
“Love” is generally taken as being derived from the French “l”oeuf”, the egg, symbolising nothing. “Love” is also said to derive from “l’heure” or “the hour” (more likely to be translated as “the time” according to Wikipedia) in French.
The term “love” can also be said to come from the English phrase “neither for love nor for money”, indicating nothing (Taken from the book entitled The Guinness Book of Tennis Facts & Feats and Fifteen Love).
So that’s the answer. Hope everyone who reads this will learn something new today.
However, another additional thing I learnt while doing this short research is this equation :
L’oeuf (French) = Love = Egg = Nothing
Which means Love IS in fact, Nothing at all !
No wonder everyone says that French is the language of Love… I salute them for discovering the true meaning of Love centuries ago, and made it into a game for people to play and whack around the court!