Maria Sharapova Talks Fame, Social Media, Naomi Osaka, Dior and More – WWD

Recent from an prolonged European summer season vacation, Maria Sharapova is trying on the world with a sharpened imaginative and prescient and a deal with entrepreneurship.

As her 4.1 million Instagram followers can attest, the previous tennis pro whiled away a lot of the summer season touring castles in Scotland, catching the Venice Movie Competition, indulging in tapas in Menorca and admiring Dubrovnik’s Outdated City. All of it appeared fairly idyllic and Sharapova stated a lot in a submit that learn, “An August I’ve by no means skilled fairly like this.”

Some may say she was overdue. After 19 years on the World Tennis Affiliation Tour, the previous number-one ranked player stepped away from the pro circuit final yr. As an alternative of understanding for six hours a day and swatting serves at 102 m.p.h., the 34-year-old listened to dwell music at Royal Albert Corridor and loved a mille crepe cake amongst different nonathletic pursuits.

”I actually wished to discover the world with a wholly new perspective in comparison with how I noticed it earlier than. After I was in stunning cities all over the world for my sport, I used to be so targeted on the competitors, restoration and all the time preparing for the following match or match — packing and unpacking — with out quite a lot of time to actually perceive, go to, discover and discover true which means in how issues have been constructed and finished.”

With the U.S. Open underway, Sharapova supplied her views concerning the altering state of tennis, coping with fame, social media’s double edge and her enterprise ventures. On the time of her retirement final yr, Sharapova was a five-time Grand Slam winner with an estimated $325 million in profession earnings. The Russian-born athlete medaled on the 2012 Summer season Olympics and topped Forbes’ “Highest Paid Feminine Athletes” record for 11 consecutive years. Accidents and a 15-month suspension for utilizing meldonium, a managed substance, impacted her court docket time earlier than she formally bowed out, doing so by penning an essay for Vogue and Vainness Truthful.

Adept at sponsorships and enterprise offers, Sharapova’s present roster consists of Evian, Rove Ideas, Tonal and others. She not too long ago launched collaborative furnishings with Rove and is fascinated with engaged on architectural and inside initiatives. Sharapova’s premium sweet firm Sugarpova began as a aspect hustle in 2012. Her fiancé Alexander Gilkes can be a seasoned entrepreneur, having cofounded the net public sale home Paddle8 (he exited a couple of years in the past). Final yr, he launched Squared Circles to work with entrepreneurs and incubate up-and-coming manufacturers in client items rooted in sustainability, materials science and different areas. The couple routinely speak enterprise, initiatives and investments, together with some that intertwine.

The athlete spoke about Naomi Osaka’s effort to carry psychological wellness to the forefront of a public dialogue, saying that, “All of us should be extremely supportive of athletes who’re going by powerful instances of their careers. Naomi is an unbelievable athlete and a good looking human being, who has a really lengthy profession forward of her. All of us must respect the choices that gamers make at instances of vulnerability, once they’re feeling down or not enjoying their finest tennis. To be trustworthy, not many individuals know what’s occurring behind-the-scenes and the way gamers really feel. You solely see the tennis sport and what occurs on the court docket. The extra help that we are able to present, the higher they are going to be and the higher that they may play.”

Having had a respectful relationship with the media, Sharapova additionally famous they may be powerful particularly on tough days, once you need to deal with the following apply or match. “However you continue to have to point out up for the press, be skilled, be higher and converse concerning the match,” she stated.

As for whether or not the media’s present curiosity in her non-public life is a bit powerful to take, Sharapova stated, “Once more, it’s about setting sure guidelines. Each particular person is completely different. What’s delicate for one particular person may not be for an additional, and vice versa. Should you’re an athlete, it’s actually about understanding what’s finest for you. It’s your profession and it’s important to take possession. Athletes actually have the flexibility to do this at the moment, which is admittedly necessary.”

Sharapova will attend subsequent week’s Met Gala, although she isn’t about to disclose her designer of alternative. Having beforehand labored with Nike and as soon as dreamt up a pair of Tiffany earrings with Frank Lloyd Wright for a U.S. Open look, she is now at work on a trend challenge with Evian with “some of the thrilling designers on this planet” whom she additionally declined to determine.

For a pink carpet look in Venice earlier this week, Sharapova went with an ethereal chiffon robe from Dior that she had seen within the present just about. “After I noticed that costume and knew that I used to be attending the movie competition, I positively despatched them a be aware and stated ‘I might like to put on that costume.’”

Having met Maria Grazia Chiuri a couple of instances (the designer even watched Sharapova compete in Rome a few years in the past), Sharapova stated, “I’ve been an enormous admirer of her imaginative and prescient and what she stands for for girls all all over the world.”

The previous pro has not but selected a marriage costume. Like hundreds of thousands of engaged {couples}, she and Gilkes are holding off on setting a marriage date till coronavirus-related journey restrictions ease to allow them to carry collectively their closest members of the family and mates. (Gilkes, whose first spouse was Misha Nonoo, is pleasant with Prince William and Harry from their Eton faculty days.)

Off-hours, her model is “pretty comfy, elegant and never too fussy,” she stated. Dior, The Row and Alexander McQueen are a couple of favourite labels. A fan of types that stand the check of time, Sharapova took that method for her tennis clothes, too, routinely asking, “How will I really feel about carrying this at a U.S. Open in 5 years?” was all the time her mentality, she stated.

Pangaia sweatpants and sweatshirts have been her at-home pandemic staples. As for the chance of the athleisure development subsiding post-COVID-19, she stated laughing, “I don’t assume it will likely be sweatpants-free. It is likely to be elevated sweatpants. It may not be the entire top-to-bottom sweatpants look. However there positively shall be part of it that may stick.”

The rise of teenage tennis gamers like Emma Raducanu, Leylah Annie Fernandez and Carlos Alcarez on the U.S. Open has additionally energized the game. Sharapova stated she admires the youthful technology’s fearlessness, energy and the physicality. “What’s good is it’s been a pleasant stability with the women and men. Either side of the draw are seeing so many aggressive matches and clashes of the younger and older generations. There’s been such nice tennis. From a fan’s perspective, that’s additionally an excellent signal for the longer term.”


Maria Sharapova from Russia shows the signed ball before throw them to the fans after he match with Ajla Tomljanovic from Australia during first day of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

Maria Sharapova in 2019.

Gamers face post-match hate mail, as Sloane Stephens not too long ago disclosed. Sharapova addressed how, if in any respect, that was a think about her choice to step away from tennis final yr. “Social media is certainly extra distinguished than once I was enjoying or once I had began developing. It’s a wholly new aspect of one thing that athletes should deal with.

“I actually get pleasure from sharing my experiences with my followers. Via social media, the true and true fan base will get to find out about you greater than you being simply on the tennis court docket. However there’s all the time a draw back. It’s a matter of getting a wholesome understanding of what relationship you’ll have with social media and actually establishing boundaries with how a lot time you spend on it and the way a lot time you don’t.” | Maria Sharapova Talks Fame, Social Media, Naomi Osaka, Dior and Extra – WWD


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