Much like badminton, which has its roots in British India, tennis did not originate in Europe, but most likely in ancient Egypt. CNN’s A Short History of Tennis: Henry VIII to Federer the great sheds light on the funny/bittersweet scoring term wherein to not win a point or a game is to “love.”
The love has its origins from the French word for egg ‘l’oeuf’, symbolizing ‘nothing’ as Lesley Ronaldson, a Real Tennis professional, who lives at Hampton Court, told Open Court.
“In lawn tennis it’s 15-30-40 games, abbreviated from 45 in 1800,” she said. …And love for instance, love was something you did for nothing, you did something for nothing, it comes from there,” she added.
And if to love is “to lose one’s head,” then the idea was served up to Anne Boleyn quite literally:
Henry’s second wife Ann Boleyn was watching a game of Real Tennis in Whitehall when she was arrested, and according to the official Web site of Hampton Court, legend has it he was playing when told she had been executed.
“That was clearly not a ‘love’ match but from Real Tennis it is generally accepted the modern tennis scoring system and terminology evolved.
Would Federer have fared better if tennis was still being played the “real” way.