Quick English Lesson: Tennis and Wimbledon

Wimbledon is one of the most famous events in the sporting calendar. Every year, the world’s greatest tennis players gather in south west London to compete for one of the sport’s four Grand Slam tournaments.

If you're a tennis fan, you may have noticed that every player on the tour – no matter where they’re from – seems to speak perfect English. Unfortunately, however, it doesn’t mean that if you start playing tennis you’ll immediately get better at speaking the language.

The reason professional tennis players speak good English is because three out of four of the Grand Slams are in English speaking countries: as well as Wimbledon in London, there is the US Open in New York and the Australian Open in Melbourne. The media also plays a significant role, as it is important for the players to give interviews and press conferences in English.

But you don’t have to be a professional to use tennis as a way to improve your English vocabulary. We’ve picked out some typical tennis words that you can use next time you’re down at the court, either watching or playing.

Crowds at Wimbledon
Crowds at Wimbledon - Photo by Thomas Lovelock/AELTC.


Deuce is the score when two players are level on 40-40. It comes from French, which is where the origins of tennis began. Back in the 12th century, a similar game was played, but instead of using rackets like today, players just used their hands.

“Andy Murray wins the point, which takes the score to deuce.”


The serve is the starting shot of each point. It can be used as both as verb and a noun.

“Federer started the match with a good first serve.” (noun)
“Federer served the first point.” (verb)


A let is called when a point needs to be replayed. The most common example in professional tennis is when a player is serving, and the ball hits the net before going in. The most common example when you are playing tennis at your local court is when you can’t decide whether the ball is in or out.

“Was that shot in?” “I don’t know – let’s play a let.”


You will hear love a lot in a tennis match, but it doesn’t mean that there’s plenty of amore in the air. It is simply the word used instead of zero. It comes from the French term l’oeuf, meaning the egg, because it is the same shape as a 0.

“I was winning fifteen-love at the start of the second set.”


Pimm’s is an alcoholic drink that’s very popular in the summer time in the UK. It is particularly associated with Wimbledon, as well as eating strawberries and cream. A brand of liqueur (or fruit cups), the most common type of Pimm’s is based on gin. It is usually served with lemonade, strawberries, cucumber, and mint, but you can use any fruit. If you’re watching Wimbledon this year, look out for the amber coloured drinks in the crowd!

Tennis Wimbledon Pimm's
An enticing glass of Pimm's, perfect for a summer afternoon.
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