Saturday, January 26, 2008

NOTE TO SELF: CONTINUE DAUGHTER’S TENNIS LESSONS

Maria Sharapova cruised by Ana Ivanova 7-5, 6-3 Saturday morning to win the Australian Open -- her third Grand Slam title.

Sharapova, who didn't lose a set in seven matches, was clearly determined that nothing would stop her after winning only three games against Serena Williams in last year's final.

The match was important to tennis for other reasons. Popularity in sports like golf and tennis ebb and flow with their stars…see Tiger Woods for a good example. Tennis now has big stars on both sides of the net to match the likes of Nadal (nice Capri pants) and Federer.

THIS FROM ESPN: Australia—The two most marketable players in women’ tennis these days will meet in the Australian Open final on Saturday.

Both are telegenic 20-year-olds with big games and bright futures, but it’s the contrasts between them that capture attention.

Maria Sharapova is a two-time Grand Slam champion and former No. 1 who’s parlayed her success and tall blonde panache into big business, earning between $26-$28 million from endorsement deals with companies including Canon, Nike, PepsiCo, Land Rover, Tag Heuer, Prince and a just-signed agreement with Sony Ericsson, which also sponsors the WTA Tour.


Ana Ivanovic is a much more recent phenomenon, bursting into prominence last spring by reaching the French Open final and Wimbledon semifinals. She’ll rise to No. 2 in the world after her performances this week, and her cherub dark-haired charm has boosted her profile even faster.

Though she’s not yet in Sharapova’s league when it comes to off-court earnings – who is, apart from Roger Federer? – Ivanovic had made a good start, banking about $3-$5 million a year from endorsements with adidas, Yonex, Verano Motors in Serbia and Juice Plus (a company owned by her Swiss manager).

(Photos © Mark Dadswell/Getty Images, Greg Wood/AFP/Getty Images, Romeo Gacad/ Getty Images)

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