Column: Maria Sharapova's Brand Tainted, But Being Used As Launchpad
Unstoppable, "screams the cover of Maria Sharapova's just-released memoir," according to Oliver Brown of the London TELEGRAPH. This "must be received with at least an arched eyebrow by Serena Williams," who has stopped her on each of the last 18 occasions they have played each other. But it is true that "Brand Maria," if not the player, "remains impossible to subdue." Asked about "those scornful of her return after a 15-month ban for meldonium," a prescription heart drug, Sharapova "bristles." She said, "I don't think it's for them to have an opinion, really, because they don't have the facts. Those are the types of words that make headlines, and they will be used as headlines." Classic Sharapova: "a choreographed list of no information, all delivered with a turn-of-the-heel hauteur." With "so many unanswered issues neatly side-stepped, she is back on the PR wagon, laying on the victimhood with a trowel." Legitimate criticisms are "brusquely" dismissed as "comments not based on facts -- therefore I don't take them into consideration." Within four months of her ban expiring, she is releasing an autobiography that "can only be construed as a naked attempt at monetising the perceived injustice of it all." There has "never been an athlete more lavishly rewarded for a doping violation." Sharapova earned an estimated £15.5M in endorsements over 12 months, despite not playing a single match. Her racquet sponsor, Head, was "among the most risibly craven of all, airbrushing the folly of her transgression to coin the social media hashtag #WeStandWithMaria." Tennis is a sport that "circles the wagons faster than pioneers on the Santa Fe Railroad." The "crux of Sharapova's unabashed efforts at rehabilitation is that she has yet to display even an ounce of remorse" (TELEGRAPH, 9/18).