LONDON - Liezel Huber was having lunch with Bob and Mike Bryan on Monday afternoon when the U.S. tennis coaches approached the group with an announcement. The trio, along with Lisa Raymond, would comprise the two teams representing the U.S. in the mixed doubles competition.
“They asked us if we were ready,” Huber recalled. “Lisa was working out downstairs at the time so I went to tell her.”
Their response? Of course they were ready. This was something 88 years in the making. Mixed doubles is an Olympic event for the first time since 1924. And Team USA is embracing the change as it’s another chance for the U.S. to extend its dominance in Olympic tennis. Since tennis was reintroduced into the Olympic Games in 1988, the U.S. has won 10 of the 24 gold medals awarded. No other country has won more than two.
“It’s amazing,” Raymond said about adding mixed doubles to the mix. “Obviously for doubles-only players it’s fabulous. We get another chance to play for a medal, another chance to represent our country, so I think we’re all really excited about it.”
Mixed doubles was an Olympic event until the 1924 Games in Paris. Americans Richard Williams, a survivor of the Titanic, and Hazel Wightman won the gold. Tennis was dropped from the Games altogether until 1988, when it was introduced without mixed doubles. In 2009, Olympic officials decided to add mixed doubles to the program. The U.S. couldn’t be happier about it.
“We’re just elated,” Huber said. “Everyone is really excited.”
The mixed doubles competition will begin today. Raymond will team up with Mike Bryan as the field’s No. 1 seed. The pair won at Wimbledon just under a month ago. Huber and Bob Bryan are ranked second. Together, they have won two Grand Slam victories.
The field has 16 teams, so the pairs must win two matches to compete for a medal. Each competitor has two chances to win medals. All four players are also competing in same-sex doubles. The Bryan twins are seeded No. 1 in men’s doubles, while Huber and Raymond are No. 1 in women’s.
“Now we get one more chance to win a medal,” Raymond said. “Hopefully we’ll make it count.”