CNBC: Tennis champion Maria Sharapova invests in tech wellness brand Therabody
Five-time Grand Slam title winner and entrepreneur Maria Sharapova announced on Tuesday she’s investing in wellness brand Therabody (formerly called Theragun). Sharapova, who retired from tennis in February, will serve as a strategic advisor to help the brand with global growth strategy and partnerships.
“I think my biggest strength as an investor is that I’m able to bring a 360-degree outlook to the table — as an athlete, an entrepreneur and a consumer,” Sharapova told CNBC in email. “Since Therabody’s launch, they have continued to demonstrate they are on the cutting-edge of combining technology, fitness, and wellness, bringing more balance to people’s lives.”
The company, first known for its Theragun massage tool, has grown to include several high-end massage therapy products that are frequently seen on the sidelines of professional sports teams.
In addition to Sharapova, Therabody has relationships with NBA All-Star Paul George and 2020 PGA Championship winner Collin Morikawa who serve as brand ambassadors. Last month, the company expanded its offerings to include a product line of CBD oils and lotions.
“As we continue to innovate and offer whole-body wellness products, Maria shares Therabody’s vision to improve people’s lives with natural wellness solutions. As a former professional athlete, she knows exactly how to recover and take care of her body on and off the court,” Benjamin Nazarian, CEO of Therabody, said in a statement.
Therabody declined to tell CNBC how large of a stake Sharapova took in the company.
The tennis star is no stranger to entrepreneurship. She came to the United States as a seven year old with just $700 in her pocket. The Russian-born tennis player’s career quickly took off beginning at the age of 14, when she turned pro and became one of the top tennis players in the world.
Throughout her 28-year career, Sharapova gained high profile endorsement deals with brands such as Nike, Porsche, UBS, Tiffany, Gatorade, Tag Heuer, and Land Rover.
Sharapova started her own company in 2012, a candy and sweets brand called Sugarpova. With an initial $500,000 investment, the brand now reportedly earns about $20 million per year.
Forbes estimates Sharapova’s total career earnings to be more than $325 million from prize money and endorsements, making her the second highest paid female tennis player of all time (behind Serena Williams). For 11 straight years, she held the title of highest paid female athlete.
Following a failed doping test for use of meldonium in 2016, Sharapova spent 15 months on the sidelines suspended. When she returned, she faced nagging injuries and ultimately announced her retirement from tennis at the age of 32.
“I’m ready to scale another mountain—to compete on a different type of terrain,” she told Vanity Fair at the time.
Now that she’s not traveling the world on the professional tennis circuit, Sharapova has set her sights on focusing on her businesses and spending more time with her loved ones.
“Having more flexibility in my schedule, and not having to change things or plan things last minute, has been one of the biggest joys in this new phase. Lately, I’ve been able to explore new ways of working out, or dedicate most of my day to the Sugarpova business,” she said.
In addition to her latest investment with Therabody, Sharapova’s portfolio includes investments in Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) and sunscreen company Supergoop, of which she’s a co-owner. In February, Sharapova appeared as a guest judge on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” where she and Mark Cuban teamed up to invest in a wearable weights company called Bala Bangles.
Sharapova is working with architect Dan Meis to design and deliver branded tennis, health and wellness spa facilities worldwide. An announcement on their collaboration is expected in the coming months.
“I try to create deeper and more meaningful partnerships that go beyond just having my name on a product. More than anything, I like to play a strategic role in my investments and pursue opportunities where I’m able to share my vision and experience,” she said.
“I like to think I’m a curator of good quality and that I have an eye for what works versus what doesn’t.”