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Maria ‘Sugarpova’ ditches US Open name-change plan

Screengrab from Sugarpova website

Russian tennis superstar Maria Sharapova ditched plans on Tuesday to change her surname to “Sugarpova” at next week’s US Open, in what appears to have been a successful ploy to attract attention to her luxury candy brand.


Russian tennis ace Maria Sharapova has given up on a kooky plan to legally change her name for next week’s US Open in order to promote her new candy brand, Sugarpova.

The 26-year-old had enquired to the Supreme Court in Florida, where she is based, as to whether she could alter her surname to Sugarpova for the duration of the two-week hard-court championship. But on Tuesday, her agent, Max Eisenbud, told ESPN sports channel that the change would have been too complicated.

“After serious contemplation [...] we ultimately decided against it," he said, following 24 hours of global media speculation over what would have been an unprecedented marketing stunt.

“Maria has pushed her team to do fun, out-of-the-box-type things to get the word out about Sugarpova,” Eisenbud said. "In Miami, we're going to fill a glass truck full of candy and drive it around town. This was an idea that fell along those lines. But, at the end of the day, we would have to change all her identification. She has to travel to Japan and China right after the tournament and it was going to be very difficult."

‘Sweet tooth’

Sharapova launched her luxury confectionary line last summer, in what she describes as “something of her own”.

Pictured at the Spanish factory where the sweets are produced, Sharapova explains on the brand’s website that a sweet tooth drove her to “put her thinking cap on and start an adventure”.

The luxury line of sweets sells in 15 different forms; most of them seemingly banal save for the brightly coloured tennis ball-shaped soft gums, bagged under the theme “sporty”. Others themes include “flirty” lips, “silly” worms and “chic” handbags and heels – the outlines of which Sharapova claims to have drawn herself.

The sweets sell for $6 USD per 142 grams, which is way above the average price for a bag of gummy bears. “We’re not looking to be on the shelves next to the $1.99 candy,” Sharapova’s agent, Max Eisenbud, told The New York Times after the line’s launch last June.

Forbes magazine said the star hoped to sell 1.5 million bags of the confectionary, which are available in 15 countries, within the first 12 months. A portion of sales are to be donated to the Maria Sharapova Foundation, “furthering her ongoing dedication to a charitable cause close to her heart,” according to the website.

Sugarpova fashion house

Forbes named Sharapova the world’s highest-earning female athlete for a ninth consecutive year in August, making her the world’s 62nd most powerful celebrity.

The world No. 3 made an impressive $29 million in earnings from prize money, appearance fees and – most significantly – endorsements between June 2012 and June 2013. Her win at the French Open in June 2012 led her to lucrative deals with sportswear manufacturers Head and Nike.

Sharapova has said that she plans to develop the Sugarpova company to cover other luxury categories once her tennis days are over.

“I really [want to expand...] into cosmetics, and then fashion,” she said in an interview with Vogue UK last June. “Creatively, I've always had a thing for fashion, so I would love it. But that's down the line.”

While her name will remain the same at the US Open, Sharapova plans to wear the lips logo that represents the Sugarpova brand during the tournament, which begins on August 26.

She has struggled to impress fans this year after losing the French Open title in June to Serena Williams and failing to reach even the third round of Wimbledon with a shock defeat to Portugal’s Michelle Larcher de Brito.

On Friday, Sharapova split with her coach, eight-time grand slam champion Jimmy Connors, after just one match.


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