BBC News: Sharapova looks for sweet taste of
But Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova, who plays her opening
match at Wimbledon today, is talking about her business, not
The 26-year-old has taken the first steps to becoming her own
brand, and creating a new business career, with her Sugarpova
sweets, newly launched in the UK.
It is just the latest country launch, in an ambitious drive that
she hopes will see her become one of the biggest premium
confectionery names in the world.
"Business and sport are both very competitive worlds, and I want
to be the best in both," says the 2004 Wimbledon champion.
Out of the sport
She says the product, begun entirely with her own money, is the
start of her setting up a strong independent commercial foundation
for when she leaves the game.
"When I was injured it gave me a chance to consider other
options outside tennis," she says, referring to a period in 2008-09
when shoulder surgery meant she was out of the sport for nine
The French Open runner-up says it took her two years to create
the sweets, which were launched in the US last year and have since
been introduced to a number of other countries.
According to Forbes, she has total career earnings of $26m
(£17m) and is rated by the business magazine as the 22nd highest
paid athlete in the world, and the top female one.
But she laughs off the statistics, saying
that "these are just numbers", and that financial gain was not her
prime motivation for moving into the sweets business.
Rather it was about financial responsibility.
"I have been thinking for a long time that I wanted to be the
person making the business decisions, be it the financial, creative
or advertising side of things," she says.
"I also wanted to build something else of my own, aside from
Sharapova says she took two years before the launch because she
wanted to study closely what else was on the market.
"For me, it has been a process combining creativity and brand
creation," she says.
Perhaps it is not too surprising that she wanted to create her
own brand, given her history of active involvement and
collaboration in her sponsorship deals.
Big names such as Porsche, Nike, Tag Heuer, Evian, Cole Haan,
Head and Samsung have clamoured to work with the four-times Grand
Slam tournament winner.
Sharapova has worked
closely with a number of big-name brands
"I have had a lot of experience of creative input with my
business partners," she says.
She created a line of shoes for Cole Haan and the Sharapova's
ballerina flat was one of the top-selling shoes for the
For TAG Heuer she designed a line of sunglasses, and Sharapova
also has her own tennis line for Nike, which six other female
players on the WTA tour use.
Perhaps one of her most interesting collaborations was with the
famed architect Frank Gehry to come up with items of jewellery for
'Fashion and cosmetics'
So which of these many sectors does she plan to expand into once
her playing days are over?
"I see my brand going into a few directions. Fashion and
cosmetics are passions of mine, and I think there is room there,"
Some flak has come her way for launching a sugar-based product
when much of the Western world, including the US and UK, has an
"It is understandable. The world is full of different opinions,"
"I am an athlete, so I am one of the first to know what is
important for the body, and a healthy lifestyle.
"At the end of the day, things are fine if taken in
The Wimbledon No 3 seed says she has taken the tactical and
mental strengths she has found in tennis into the world of
They will called upon once more today, when Sharapova starts her
Wimbledon campaign, and she is ready to take up battle with Serena
"I love coming back to Wimbledon, and playing on the Centre
Court. It is a special tournament for me."