Mixed doubles is headed to the Olympics.
The IOC approved changes to the tennis schedule for the 2012 London Games, voting today to add mixed doubles to the men's singles, women's singles, men's doubles and women's doubles events. The plan is to set up the matches so that the top players can enter each of the events, which is a necessity.
No offense to Carly Gullickson and Travis Parrott, the American mixed doubles team who won the U.S. Open this year, but this change wasn't made to get them into the field. The IOC is hoping to see marquee pairings like Serena Williams and Andy Roddick for the United States, Novak Djokovic and Ana Ivanovic for Serbia, Rafael Nadal and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez for Spain and Roger Federer and, uh (looking up female Swiss tennis player who hasn't recently retired after a drug ban), Timea Bacsinszky for Switzerland.
That's ambitious, but within reason. With the 2012 Olympics falling smack dab in the middle of Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, there won't be as good an excuse to skip the event for fear of fatigue (like Andy Roddick did in 2008). The tournament will also be played on the courts at Wimbledon, which should add to the novelty factor. (Although, playing a grass court tournament in the middle of the hard court season might draw some grumbling.)
Tennis will be the second Olympic sport to feature men and women competing together, joining badminton. Sailing and equestrian are open to both genders as well, but there isn't a specific mixing rule.