Mixed doubles makes games return after 88 years

LONDON Tue Jul 31, 2012 2:06pm EDT

Belarus' Victoria Azarenka returns to Romania's Irina-Camelia Begu in their women's singles tennis match at the All England Lawn Tennis Club during the London 2012 Olympics Games July 30, 2012. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Belarus' Victoria Azarenka returns to Romania's Irina-Camelia Begu in their women's singles tennis match at the All England Lawn Tennis Club during the London 2012 Olympics Games July 30, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Stefan Wermuth

LONDON (Reuters) - Top seeds Victoria Azarenka and Max Mirnyi of Belarus will take on Germany's Angelique Kerber and Philipp Petzschner in the first round of the Olympics mixed doubles tennis on Wednesday, an event last won by a Titanic survivor.

Returning to the Games after an 88-year absence, the mixed doubles tournament will see 16 pairs from 13 countries battle it out for gold.

Wimbledon champions Lisa Raymond and Mike Bryan of the United States face Italy's Sara Errani and Andreas Seppi while two-time grand slam champions Liezel Huber and Bob Bryan, seeded two, take on Germany's Sabine Lisicki and Christopher Kas.

The United States were the last country to win the mixed doubles when Richard Williams, a survivor of the Titanic disaster, and his partner Hazel Wightman took home the gold at Paris in 1924.

Tennis was removed as an Olympic sport after Paris, only returning in Seoul 1988, but without the mixed doubles.

British number one Andy Murray, who was knocked out of the men's doubles in the first round but is through to the last 16 of the singles, will partner Laura Robson against Czech duo Lucie Hradecka and Radek Stepanek.

"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity to try to win a medal at your home games," said Murray. "I wanted to give myself the best chance at that. That was why I wanted to play mixed."

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan, editing by Justin Palmer)

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