Maria Sharapova has decided not to change her name to "Sugarpova" for next week's U.S. Open to promote her candy company.
Sharapova's agent Max Eisenbud told ESPN
on Tuesday that his client "ultimately decided against it."
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"Maria has pushed her team to do fun, out-of-the-box-type things to get the word out about Sugarpova," Eisenbud said. "In Miami, we're going to fill a glass truck full of candy and drive it around town. This was an idea that fell along those lines. But, at the end of the day, we would have to change all her identification, she has to travel to Japan and China right after the tournament and it was going to be very difficult."
The Sugarpova line of gummy candies and gum sold 1.8 million bags around the world last year, and the company is expanding to South America this year.
Sharapova's estimated earnings of $29 million over the past year make her world's highest earning female athlete, per ESPN.
Miguel Morales, of Forbes magazine, wrote the publicity surrounding Sharapova even considering changing her name
is marketing savvy, and it takes the focus away from her lackluster play in Wimbledon and the awkward firing of tennis legend Jimmy Connors as her coach.
"Sharapova’s name-change-that-never-was comes at a perfect time for the star’s brand," Morales wrote. "She enters next week’s U.S. Open commanding tennis headlines, if not the court, thanks to her uninspired loss to Sloane Stephens in Cincinnati a week ago. . . As long as she doesn’t string fans along again, the Sharapova/Sugarpova buzz will help the candy company as it expands into new product lines in the coming months."
Some, though, like Jane McManus, of ESPNW, believe Sharapova's move to change her name
was nothing short of her selling out.
"Sharapova has won majors and is one of the top tennis players in the world. It's not as if she is trying to establish herself and needs publicity bump," McManus wrote. "She's not Norma Jean changing her name to Marilyn to earn her big break. . . . Changing her name to promote her product line makes me want to brush my teeth -- and does nothing for Sharapova, the person. Besides, she is already one of the most sought-after athletes when it comes to endorsements."
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