Flash From Flushing: Share a Sugarpova? – By Jack Neworth

Written by: on 22nd August 2012
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Flash From Flushing: Share a Sugarpova? - By Jack Neworth  |

By: Jack Neworth

As the start of the U.S. Open is only days away (August 27th-September 9th), the buzz from Flushing Meadows is not whether the world #1, thirty-one-year-old Roger Federer from Switzerland can hold off #2 Novak Djokovic, the twenty-five-year-old from Serbia whom he just beat in straight sets to win a record 5th Cincinnati Open.

And it’s not whether last year’s U.S. Open runner-up, the often controversial Serena Williams can exact revenge for her tumultuous loss to 2011 titlist and current world #6, Samantha Stosur. (Who recently lost to Venus in the Cincinnati quarter-finals, a tournament won by Li Na over Germany’s Angelique Kerber 1-6, 6-3, 6-1 in the final.)

No friends, as reported in U.S.A. Today, it appears that the hottest question in the tennis world these days (at least until Open play actually begins) is what’s up with the new line of candy, the Sugarpova,  recently launched by the Siberian-born, 6’2” blond Goddess of tennis, holder of a career Grand Slam, Maria Sharapova?

Maria, who came to America at age 7, frequently tops Forbes’ list of the highest-paid female athletes. In 2011 she earned $27,000,000, $22 million of which came from endorsements, and is apparently expanding her entrepreneurial horizons with the release of her candy which includes 12 types of sweets.

 

So how did the Sugarpova come about?  Apparently it was Maria’s own brainchild that began more than two years ago. While conducting “casual research” on her love of gummy candies, she concluded that there was a surprising void of brand name identification.

Apparently months turned into years of hard work (if you call eating candy hard work) high-level staff meetings and relentless product testing. Until,  on August 20th the Sugarpova made its official launch at the upscale Henri Bendel department store in New York City, all to much press and public fanfare.

For the event, the 25-year-old Olympic tennis silver medalist wore a custom made David Koma dress, vintage Sergio Rossi shoes, and Henri Bendel jewelry. (I swear, in all my years of writing, I never thought I’d stoop to being a poor man’s fashion reporter. How the un-mighty have fallen.)

But, wait, as they say in late-night infomercials,  there’s more. Later that day, Maria attended the grand opening of the new NYC  candy store It’ Sugar wearing a Vanessa Bruno top, an Etro skirt, Cole Haan shoes, Sethi Couture earrings, and Le Vian bangles. (Someone rescue me, please.) Lastly, as part of this seemingly spectacularly successful launch, Maria was featured on the cover of Hamptons magazine.

Ever since she won Wimbledon at age 17, the telegenic Maria has been courted by Madison Avenue. What Sharapova wanted was to venture out on her own after being part of numerous successful marketing and ad campaigns from Nike to Canon to Tag Heuer.

At this year’s French Open, which Sharapova won, she called Sugarpova “The most exciting project that I’ve ever done … because it’s my own business, my own investment, my own money.”

Not to rain on anyone’s mercantile parade, least of all the lovely and talented Sharapova’s, but I’d be remiss in not reporting that Maria dropped out of last week’s  Western and Southern open because of a “stomach virus.”

It was the second straight tournament Sharapova missed because of the illness as she also dropped out of the Rogers Cup in Montreal (“Stomach virus,” wink, wink,  or last second Sugarpova product testing?)

Somehow I have this comic image of apron-wearing Maria eagerly bent over a conveyer belt as it rolls out tray after tray of fresh Sugarpovas. (Or am I confusing Maria with an episode of “I love Lucy?”)

Joking aside, Maria is an intelligent, attractive, articulate and enormously talented tennis player and one can only admire her success and ambition on and off the court. But, I am a little concerned if Sugarpovas are as big of a financial hit as I think they will be, other players may want to get in on the merchandising action. (Brace yourself, dear readers, I have the uneasy feeling sacrilege is about to occur.)

 

What if Rafa Nadal, who was forced to skip this year’s U.S. Open sees Maria’s stunning business success and gets a bit jealous?  What if he comes out with the “Na Doll,” a series of upscale toys for rich grade-school girls?  (I suddenly hear the faint sound of groans. Okay, maybe not so faint.)

 

And, while in New York City, home to delicatessens known all around the world, what if Novak Djokovic licenses a sandwich to delis in major metropolitan cities across the country… the Djokowich?

 

And then there’s the 6’6”,handsome and powerful Martin Juan Del Potro, 23, from Argentina who won the U.S. Open in 2009.  Ranked #9 going into the Open, what if, as he makes his way through the draw, he comes up with his own business brain child. What if Juan Martin Del Potro legally changes his name to Colonel Del Poultry, and opens chicken take-out franchises nationwide?

 

But I better stop. (Before someone stops me.) I was going to mention how Federer is often referred to as the Fed Express and what if he finally wants to get paid for it?  Actually, as I just proofed this for typos, I have a feeling I’m speaking for fans everywhere, when I say, thank goodness the actual tennis starts soon.

(Jack Neworth is a freelance writer in Santa Monica and co-author of “Men in White,” a screenplay about tennis legend Pancho Gonzalez and his tumultuous forty-five year friendship with fellow HOF Pancho Segura. Jack can be reached at [email protected])

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