By Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek
April 13, 2012
The next marketing frontier for Maria Sharapova to conquer involves returning to the place of her birth. The world’s highest-paid female athlete recently signed a three-year sponsorship deal with Samsung Electronics Company to promote Samsung smart phones in her native Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States. Sharapova’s agent at IMG, Max Eisenbud, has stated that the WTA Number Two’s return to her roots is an important step in her preparations for the Olympics – but not this summer’s Games in London, rather, the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.
Russia is an untapped business market for Sharapova, who currently counts Nike, Tiffany and Company, Tag Heuer, Cole Haan, and Evian Water in her $23.8 million global endorsement portfolio. The country is a growth market for electronics and high end consumer goods, and Sharapova, who previously endorsed other mobile phone makers Motorola and Sony Ericsson, should be well positioned to run down other high profile regional endorsement deals in the run up to the Sochi games.
Sharapova’s next known business venture is her "SugarPova” line of watermelon flavored tennis ball gumballs and other candy, due out by the end of the year.