Friday, November 22, 2013

Maria Sharapova on Business and Branding

Tennis star Maria Sharapova talks to the Wall Street Journal's Lee Hawkins about her future as a tennis player and a businesswoman, her brand, her Sugarpova candy line and other products and endorsements and the rivalry with Serena Williams.
Lee Hawkins does a bit of an awkward, at times stilted interview, but he draws quite a lot from Maria Sharapova.  Business is very much underway for her, even as she still plays at the upper echelons of tennis.  Perhaps unlike hordes of other athletes, then, she is well positioned to sustain her stardom beyond the sport. 

The following are my notes: 

Time will tell, the body will tell, that is, when she retires from tennis. She wants to be in business, because she loves creating things that inspire her: You see it, you sketch it, you make it happen. Getting endorsements depends on how one uses tennis. This, in reference to Serena Williams not getting as many, even though she has won more titles than Sharapova: `I want to be greater. Forbes lists her as the highest paid woman in sports. She looks for, and partners with, companies that have similar values and understand her career: for example, Sugarpova at Henri Bendel, luxury accessories; and design venture with Cole Haan. The core of the brand is important to her, and the sustainability of brands. During recovery from shoulder injury, she focused more on her brand and worked at strengthening and extending it. Many entrepreneurs do have mentors, but for Sharapova, it's more about her coterie of trusted people, including her parents and manager. She has learned to be, and is, tough: You have to be tough in business and on the court.

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