Sharapova ditches Hong Kong for Auckland
Here's just one of the reasons we respect Maria Sharapova's way of doing business.
The Russian, who typically banks a huge cheque for playing that meaningless exhibition in Hong Kong before the Australian Open, had decided to play the small tuneup event in Auckland, New Zealand instead.
Here's an excerpt of the way tournament director Richard Palmer said it went down
, in terms of negotiations.
"Her agent telephoned to say she was interested in playing Auckland, and to ask, were we interested – silly question.
"There was an asking rate and it was fair and reasonable, given who she is and our limited resources, and it was all tied up in just over two weeks – a lot less stressful than some of these things, which can take months."
Sharapova then did a conference call, with the only stipulation being no questions about her recent engagement to Sasha Vujacic of the Lakers.
Easy as pie.
We'll contrast that with the courtship of Serena Williams in Istanbul
“We have been working for six months to bring Serena to play in Istanbul. We have talked to her agent, her father, her mother. We have to go through from every detail, from where she will stay to what events she will show up during her time in here. It was a tiring effort but it will be worthwhile."
What was striking about that entire Istanbul affair was that this event took place the last week of July. But even 10 days before (after the "broken glass incident," and after she pulled out of her Team Tennis commitments in the U.S., when Serena had to know she was in trouble, she still didn't do anything to stop them from announcing and confirming her participation in an event there was no chance she'd show up for.
It is a huge deal for these smaller events to have players of that magnitude. They base their entire limited marketing funds around it. And with women's tennis playing to so many empty seats these days, it's probably a budget breaker if they don't show (Istanbul was pretty sparse in the wake of Williams's eventual withdrawal).
Serena was to be paid $150,000 to show up in Istanbul, which tournament organizers said was less than the going rate for someone of Williams's stature.
We don't have a number on Sharapova's guarantee in Auckland.
This isn't as much a criticism of Williams (who can do as she pleases in running her career, and does) as much as it is a shoutout to Sharapova, who has myriad business interests and is a money-making machine, but somehow seems to manage to keep it all reasonably low-maintenance, at least from the outside.