SBD/August 29, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Sharapova Continues To Position Herself Off The Court As Her Tennis Game Returns

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Maria Sharapova is the highest-paid female athlete in the world
Maria Sharapova's "cool demeanor on court and in public masks an industrious work ethic and competitive fire that are evidenced by her status as the world's highest paid female athlete," according to Rosemary Feitelberg of WOMEN'S WEAR DAILY. While Sharapova's rankings have fluctuated in recent years, "her business prowess is nothing but consistent." Sharapova, who is the No. 3 seed at the U.S. Open, has sponsorships with "Nike, Cole Haan, Tiffany & Co., Tag Heuer, Head, Canon, Evian, Gatorade, Sony Ericsson and Clear anti-dandruff shampoo." Sharapova's next business venture is "Sugarpova, a candy line due out later this year or in early 2012." The three-time major champion is "among the elite athletes" in Nike's "Make Yourself" ad campaign. Consumers can see Sharapova's "on-court performance and training pieces in 30 countries," and some Nike-sponsored junior tennis players "suit up in her creations though never exact replicas of what she is competing in." Sharapova during daytime matches at the U.S. Open "will wear a superlightweight Nina Ricci-inspired lavender dress with neon pink straps," while she will wear "a more dramatic black dress with green accents that will be all about the back of the dress" for night matches. Meanwhile, Tiffany "provides, but does not mass produce," the earrings Sharapova wears for major tournaments (WWD.com, 8/29). Sharapova participated in the WALL STREET JOURNAL's "20 Odd Questions" feature, and Ray Smith wrote the "mix of girliness and brass has made the Russian-born 24-year-old a favorite in the sports and fashion worlds." Sharapova said after a match, "I go shopping if I lose. If I win, I prepare for the next match" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/27).

HONEST ATHLETE: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Bhattacharya & Zhong featured tennis player Li Na in the "Weekend Interview" and noted Li is "blunt when she needs to be," and she is "unafraid of showing impatience with journalists' questions." Since winning the French Open in June, Li "has tried to emphasize that she isn't an avatar of political revolt, or at least she shouldn't be treated as one." Li: "I'm just an athlete" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/27).

EGG-CELLENT IDEA: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Hannah Karp writes since last year's U.S. Open, Novak Djokovic "has been trying to improve his fitness by climbing into a rare $75,000 egg-shaped, bobsled-sized pressure chamber," known as the "CVAC Pod." The pod uses a "computer-controlled valve and a vacuum pump to stimulate high altitude and compress the muscles at rhythmic intervals" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/29).

CALL WAITING: In N.Y., Ken Belson wrote the USTA has introduced a mobile app that will allow fans attending this year's U.S. Open to "shop for merchandise with smartphones and have purchases waiting for them when they leave." Fans sitting in suites can also "have the merchandise delivered to their seats" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/27).
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