Maria Sharapova wants to change last name to Sugarpova
By CHRIS CHASE – August 20, 2013 at 9:48am EDT
In an attempt to promote her personal line of candy, Maria Sharapova is hoping to temporarily change her name to Maria Sugarpova for the upcoming U.S. Open, according to a report by Neil Harman of the Times of London.
Harman, a highly respected tennis writer at a highly respected newspaper, says Sharapova asked the Florida Supreme Court for a “quickie” name change that would start before the Open and end at the tournament’s conclusion. That change would promote Sugarpova, Sharapova’s successful line of gummy candies that was launched in 2012.
Sharapova’s agent didn’t return calls about the audacious plan and the USTA has said Tuesday’s release of seedings would include No. 3 Maria Sharapova, not No. 3 Maria Sugarpova.
“There has been no formal request for a Sugarpova to be in the draw,” the USTA said. “And if there is, it will go to the tournament director.”
There’s a Sugarpova press event later Tuesday in New York and it seems likely the issue will be addressed there.
To recap: Maria Sharapova reportedly wants to change her name to promote her candy line, but her agent won’t talk about it and the USTA isn’t buying it. Others are reporting it as confirmed fact, even though the original report merely said it’s an attempt. It all sounds like a bit of a farce. It’s also completely brilliant.
The idea of a player changing his or her name to promote a company is the worst kind of commercialism. The NFL, which has an exclusive apparel deal with Nike, would almost certainly rebuff any efforts for, say, Robert Griffin III to turn his name into Bobby Adidas III for the NFL season. It’s silly to think that Rafael Nadal could file some paperwork to make his name promote Bacardi or that Roger Federer could become Roger Rolex Gillette Mercedes Benz Lindt Nike Wilson Federer and expect people to address him as such.
In that way, this whole Sugarpova idea is preposterous. Even if the Florida Supreme Court does accept this reported petition (it’s made worse decisions before), the idea that the switch is temporary would give the USTA and ESPN/CBS/Tennis Channel a chance to ignore it, even if it can’t legally stop the Florida court.
But either way, the mere talk of a name change has generated a ton of free publicity for Sharapova’s candy line. One story has caught on fire. If we assume the petition/stunt is real and filed, not necessarily in good faith or with high expectations, then it’s already done its job. People are talking about Sugarpova.
There’s one way it could backfire, however. If Sharapova loses early at the U.S. Open, the media may blame her struggles on this failed publicity stunt. But in that case, Sharapova can kick back in her press conference with a bag of Sugarpova, pull out a gummy tennis ball, shake her head and simply blame it on Jimmy Connors. It’s a win-win.