What Does Let Mean in Tennis? A Beginner’s Guide to RacketSport Rules

What Does Let Mean in Tennis? A Beginner's Guide to RacketSport Rules

Have you ever watched a tennis game and been perplexed when the umpire calls a Let while your favourite player is re-taking the serve?

You are not alone. The naming rules of tennis can be puzzling for newcomers.

So grab your tennis gear and join us on the court as we attempt to answer the question, “What does Let mean in tennis?”

What Does Let Mean in Tennis?

A let in tennis is a situation in which the point must be replayed. This is most noticeable when the player is serving.

If the tennis ball makes contact with the net but still finds its way into the service box, a let is called, and the point is replayed.

Can you believe that one of the best tennis players Serena Williams, did four lets in a row during her game with Morita in 2013? So don’t get discouraged, everyone can understand that it’s a challenge to perform the perfect serve, and we assure you this happens to professional tennis players all the time.

What Does the Word Let Mean? 

Now let’s look at the reasoning behind the name. First, where does the name LET actually come from?

To begin, some claim that the word Let is derived from the word “lettain.” It originates from Old Saxon and means “to hinder”

Others, on the other hand, believe that let is a shortened version of the French word “fillet,” which translates to “net.”

Or maybe it is all as simple as an abbreviation of the English word “letting”.

Who Can Call a Let?

In both single and double tennis matches, the tennis let rule states that any active player or the umpire may call a let.

A common practice at professional tennis games is for only the umpire to call a let. However, if you are playing for fun, any player can call let in tennis.

The let must be called as soon as it occurs and before the ball is hit by the server or near ace. In addition, the let must be called before the player’s serve return is out of play.

How Many Times Can A Let Be Called In Tennis?

There is no restriction on the number of lets that can be made in a single point or during the entire tennis match. And it won’t affect the results in any way.

Let or Net?

To delve deeper into the subject, you need to comprehend the distinction between net and let in tennis. When the service ball hits the net, it is considered a fault and a net is called. Let is a situation in which the service ball that tips the net, goes over and lands in the service box.

Rules On Calling A Let

While the athletes are playing for points in tennis, there are three occasions when a let can be called, and the particular point should be replayed.  

  • Service Let
  • Rally Let 
  • Hindrance Let

Service Let

The service let is called when the ball that the player serves touches the net, and it bounces in the correct location in the service box. When a service let occurs, the server must retake the serve.

A service let can also be called:

  • If the player serves before his opponent is ready.
  • When the tennis ball makes contact with the net and then touches the player or their clothing before hitting the ground.

Rally Let

A rally let is called when a distraction prevents a player from continuing the rally. Meaning that if there is yelling, talking, or any other distraction that distracts the players, a rally let can take place.

Hindrance Let

A player who is hindered by an unintentional act of an opponent or by something beyond the player’s control is allowed to a let if the player could have made the shot if they hadn’t been hindered. When this occurs, they must immediately call a let because the time delay will prevent this let in tennis to be accepted.


Getting familiar with the terms of the sport can help you walk the road to becoming a pro tennis player with ease.

We hope we answered your question “What does let mean in tennis?” in detail and moved you one step closer to your goal.


What is the difference between net and let in tennis?

The difference between net and let tennis is where the ball ends up after touching the net. A net ball is when it goes into the net and out, which makes a fault. Let is not considered a fault.

Can you return a let serve?

No, you cannot return a let serve because that serve does not count, and the point must be replayed.

Why do tennis umpires say let?

Let is commonly used when a service attempt is not counted. And, after reading our guide on “What does let mean in tennis”, you will fully understand.

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