Sharapova designs strategy for success

From catwalk to tennis court, Russia's former world No 1 has a winning look

Flushing Meadows

They were 12 hours that encapsulated the double lives of Maria Sharapova. At 9pm on Thursday evening the 24-year-old Russian, dressed to the nines, was showcasing her autumn clothing collection in one of the swish fashion shops in the heart of New York's SoHo district. At 9am the next morning the world No 4 was out on a practice court at Flushing Meadows, belting the ball as if there were no tomorrow.

There have been times in the past three years, as she struggled to recover from shoulder surgery, when you wondered whether Sharapova's future might lie on the catwalk or in the design studios rather than on the tennis court, but this summer has underlined her determination to continue living her parallel lives to the full.

Having followed the best clay-court season of her career, including a run to the French Open semi-finals, with her first appearance in the Wimbledon final since her breakthrough victory seven years ago, the former world No 1 goes into this week's US Open as second favourite behind the ultimate comeback queen, Serena Williams. Last weekend's win in Cincinnati, where Sharapova beat four players ranked in the world's top 15, confirmed that she is close to recapturing the form that made her the world's best player.

"I was faced with adversity a few times in my career and through injury, and I've had to make many decisions on how to move forward and how to make myself a better player," Sharapova said. "So to be in these stages of tournaments, it's gratifying and means a lot to me. My motivation this year and my level out on the practice courts and little things have definitely stepped up from the past year.

"I think little by little, with some luck and hard work, things sometimes go more your way than others. But it's a life of an athlete. One day everything is great and one day something can happen, so I think I try to be level-headed on many things that come my way – wins, losses, injuries, personal things. It's just about keeping a pretty streamlined life."

Does she feel she is back to her best? "I think it's always difficult to compare. You're at different stages in your life and your career. I was much younger when I achieved my first success, so it's tough to compare those moments. I'm definitelyon the right track, in the right direction. I feel like I'm improving."

While Sharapova is at her highest place in the world rankings since shoulder surgery in October 2008, her position as the world's highest- paid sportswoman has been unchallenged for seven years. The latest analysis of sport's top earners published in Forbes magazine estimated her annual earnings at $25 million (about £15.4m), double those of the second woman on the list, her fellow tennis star Caroline Wozniacki.

Attractive sportswomen have long been a target for fashion designers looking to promote their products, but Sharapova is different to many in that she takes a keen interest in every aspect of the business, from the design through to manufacturing and even shop-floor sales.

Her deal with Cole Haan – the American clothing, shoe, handbag and accessory designer for which she launched her autumn range last week – is structured so that her own rewards rise along with the company's success.

Twenty-four hours before her SoHo appearance Sharapova had been in a smart hotel in Midtown Manhattan launching a range of bags she helped design for Head, her racket manufacturer. Sitting alongside her stablemate, Novak Djokovic, Sharapova explained her part in the project.

"I was very hands-on in the process," she said. "One of the things I wanted to have was my own collection, with a few different pieces in it. I was involved in everything from the shape, to the material, to the logo, to the lining in the bag, to everything the bag comes with, including the shoe bag inside. I was involved with every detail."

For now, the fashion icon will step aside to let the tennis player take centre stage, even if Sharapova's first appearance on court – against Britain's Heather Watson – is guaranteed to attract the style watchers keen to see her New York outfit. But for the return of Williams, Sharapova would be the favourite to repeat her 2006 triumph here, when she dropped one set in the whole tournament and beat the world's top two players, Amélie Mauresmo and Justine Henin. She would welcome the chance to test herself against Williams, whom she can only meet in the final.

"To be honest, I love playing against her," Sharapova said. "We've had very, very tough matches against each other. I don't have a great record against her and I would love to change that."

News
Food blogger and Guardian writer Jack Monroe with her young son
people
News
people
Environment
The plant ‘Nepenthes zygon’ was donated to Kew in 2004
environment
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years - but he says it wasn’t all fun and games...
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
News
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Life and Style
Fraud contributes 11p to a £2.00 box of half a dozen eggs
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
News
news
News
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
News
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
Arts and Entertainment
Inner sanctum: Tove Jansson and friends in her studio in 1992
booksWhat was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Singer songwriter Bob Dylan performs on stage
films
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital