Fashion has long been one of more glamorous quotients of women's tennis. In keeping with that trend, Russian Maria Sharapova creates considerable excitement in any stadium, not just for her skill, talent or professionalism but also over speculation of what outfit she will wear next.
The former World No. 1 has been collaborating with Nike, the shoe and sportswear company, on sportswear designs ever since her famous Little Black Dress made its debut at the 2006 U.S. Open. She signed an eight-year deal in 2010, worth a reported $70 million.
Since I was young, the artistic expression that fashion embodies has inspired me, Sharapova said. It's a way to communicate oneself, she added.
The svelte blonde wants to develop her brand both as a tennis star and a fashionista. Therefore, as part of her deal with Nike, she also designs bags and shoes for Cole Haan. Nike launched the Maria Sharapova collection (tennis wear and two-piece outfits) in time for the 2010 Australian Open. Her 2012 outfit has been described as sleek, streamlined and built for the hard courts of Margaret Court Arena.
The three-time Grand Slam winner's outfit looks to maximize both her fashion and tennis game and has been called The Statement Slam.
So far, Sharapova's performance in Melbourne has lived up to that name. The fourth seed has played aggressive and powerful tennis and has advanced to the semi-finals where she will face the World No. 2, Petra Kvitova.
Meanwhile, Sharapova's line of tennis outfits is becoming popular on and off the WTA Tour. She has designed looks for several up-and-coming players; these include Sofia Arvidsson, Kai-Chen Chang, Indy De Vroome, Andrea Hlavackova, Madison Keys and Anastasia Pivovarova.