The U.S. Tennis Association will sanction same-gender couples' doubles tournaments for the first time, starting at the Plaza Racquet Club in Palm Springs, California, on March 7-8.

The USTA announced Wednesday that it will schedule same-gender adult competitions throughout 2015, with a goal of having national championship events next year.

In its news release, the USTA quoted International Tennis Hall of Fame member Billie Jean King as calling the introduction of these events "a great and important step forward for tennis."

King adds: "The makeup of families in our world is changing and I'm thrilled to see that tennis also is recognizing that change, and making it easier for same-gender couples to compete and have fun together on the tennis court."