USA Today: Maria Sharapova now co-owner of a skincare company

USA Today: Maria Sharapova now co-owner of a skincare company

To Maria Sharapova’s growing stable of off-court endeavors – candy company founder, global brand ambassador, Olympic commentator – add a new one: investor.

Sharapova, the four-time Grand Slam champion from Russia, will become the new co-owner of Supergoop!, a skincare company focused on preventing damage caused by sun exposure.

An announcement of the deal is expected Friday.

“I thought the idea of being an equity owner would be the next phase in my business development,” said Sharapova.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Sharapova, who spoke to USA TODAY Sports in a phone interview Wednesday, called her involvement “organic” since she already used the 6-year-old company’s products, which are sold both online and in retailers such as Sephora and Nordstrom.

Her desire to spread awareness about sun damage, especially skin cancer, the most prevalent – and preventable – of all leading cancers, dovetailed with the company’s mission.

One in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

“If there was a cream you could put on your body that would prevent women from having breast cancer you can imagine how incredibly popular it would be,” said Sharapova, who learned from her mother the importance of using sun protection after a childhood spent mostly in sun-baked Florida.

“I think the voice that I have can be quite powerful in this category,” added Sharapova, who turns 27 this month.

The Supergoop! investment is the latest in Sharapova’s expanding business empire, which includes her Sugarpova candy line and a number of lucrative sponsor deals with the likes of Nike, Samsung, Porsche and Tag Heuer.

Since landing on U.S. shores from Siberia at age 7 and winning the 2004 Wimbledon a decade later at 17, few female athletes have parlayed sporting success into commercial opportunity with more acumen.

In 2013, Sharapova topped Forbes’ list as the top earning female athlete for the ninth consecutive year.

Her take: $29 million, the vast majority of it from endorsements and appearance fees.

“To date, there has not been a broad reaching voice for UV education and we’ve finally found our megaphone in Maria,” said Supergoop! CEO and founder Holly Thaggard in a statement.

On court, Sharapova has yet to return to top form after missing the second half of the 2013 season due to a right shoulder injury.

She reached the fourth round of the Australian Open and lost for the 15th consecutive time to No. 1 Serena Williams at the Sony Open in Miami last month, her third semifinal of 2014.

Her ranking has slipped to its lowest point in three years, but the No. 8 Russian said she was feeling better three months and five tournaments into her comeback.

“It’s a work in progress,” she said. “It’s tough to expect your ranking to be that high when you miss 5-6 months of the season. I don’t know any other way to put it. That’s the reality.”

Sharapova added that she was confident in her ability to return to championship form as she did following shoulder surgery in 2008.

“I’ve done it before,” the 2012 French Open champion said.

The good news is that she is returning to the surface where she has posted some of her best results the past three years, despite once describing her footwork on clay as akin to a “cow on ice.”

Five of her seven titles since 2010 have come on dirt, including two at Stuttgart, where she kicks off her clay campaign April 21.

“It’s the surface that I’ve improved on more than any other,” said Sharapova. “I no longer have any excuses when I get on a clay court.”