Page 3 Profile: Maria Sharapova, tennis player


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The Independent Online

Ah, Maria Sharapova. Lots to talk about here: tennis, grunting, modelling contracts…

Actually, today we’re most interested in her savvy use of personal branding. The US Open starts on Monday and Sharapova is about to change the way advertising works.

Oh right, new contract for a tennis ball brand or something?

Not quite. Thinking rather far out of the box for this particularly campaign, she is planning on changing her surname to “Sugarpova” to promote a lineof sweets that she launched this year.

Very funny! No, seriously, what is it? Trainers?

She’s deadly serious. The 26-year-old has lodged an enquiry with the Supreme Court of Florida for a “quicky” name change.  She’s looking for maximum exposure of her company at the tournament, after whichshe’ll change her name back again. Imagine how many times commentators will say that brand name and the millions across the world that will hear it, without her paying a penny for advertising. Shrewd.

Does she need the extra cash that badly?

Not at all. In fact, she’s currently the richest female athlete in the world. Her success as a tennis player, and her beauty, mean she has been snapped up as a model as well as a celebrity endorser. Born in Russia in 1987, she’s worked hard to get where she is today. Her dad took her to Florida aged nine to join a tennis academy, and she was a professional tennis player by the time she was 14.

I’m still confused, so changing your name at random is OK?!

To us ordinary folk, it may seem a little odd, but celebrities do it all the time.  Puff Daddy becomes P. Diddy, Snoop Lion replaces the Dog, not to mention musician Prince (or is it Symbol?). Frankly, many are just thankful that Sharapova has taken a less permanent approach to advertising than the tattoo-clad Billy Gibby, AKA Hostgator Dotcom. The American father charges companies to advertise on his face. He has over twenty tattoos, including some for porn websites. So, Sharapova’s sugary name change seems fairly tame in comparison.