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Old Sep 27th, 2006, 12:16 AM   #1
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Sharapova should do reality TV, not boosts

Sharapova should do reality TV, not boosts
Originally published on September 26, 2006

My e-mail had never been busier. During the U.S. Open, gets flooded with dozens of messages daily from the tournament. Results, quotes, sponsor news, player info, tournament happenings, promotions — you name it, I get it.

I usually scan the subject line, and read bits and pieces of some messages while sending others straight to the trash.

When I saw the partial heading "Maria Sharapova Signs Lifetime ...," I immediately thought of the women's television network and went straight to the delete button. But then I paused.

Being a reality TV fan, I thought it might be a new series featuring Ms. I Feel Pretty. Maybe her beau Andy Roddick would be on it too. Kind of a "Newlyweds" with tennis and minus the marriage.

After all, if the Williams sisters could try it, why not Maria? Her show couldn't be any worse than theirs was. Fantastic!

And so it was with high hopes that I opened the e-mail.

I couldn't have been further off.

"Maria Sharapova Signs Lifetime Endorsement Deal with Prince" is what I read.

Bye-bye reality show. Hello lifetime deal. Wait a minute. "Lifetime deal?"

On I read.

"Prince Sports announced today that Maria Sharapova, the 2004 Wimbledon Champion and the most recognized face in professional women's sports, has signed a lifetime endorsement agreement that extends their relationship together through her playing career and beyond."

Beyond her playing career? Let me begin by saying that I like Maria. She's personable, a good player and her commercials are quite entertaining. She's even the No. 1 player on my fantasy tennis team.

But once she's finished with tennis, will anyone care? Current players hold more weight when it comes to endorsements than retired ones. Who would you rather have pushing a new product — Rafael Nadal or Bjorn Borg? Venus or Chris Evert?

How often do you wonder what Pete Sampras, Ivan Lendl or Stephan Edberg are up to?

Once Maria is off the courts, will she have that great an impact on tennis anymore? Enough to warrant a lifetime endorsement deal? I think not.

But then again, I'm probably just bitter because I watch too much reality TV.
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