Bleacher Reporter has an article discussing why Russia’s Maria Sharapova is so popular with fans. Sharapova has been consistently ranked as one of the most searched atheletes online. The article gives four major explanations with which I mostly agree. I have added the fifth reason to explain mostly her popularity with sponsors:
1) Sex appeal. No comment here. Whether we agree or don’t, like or don’t like. Sex sells. Period.)
2) Successful tennis career. With three grand slams, 24 WTA titles and $16 million in prize-money, Sharapova continues to be a top-5 player. She is no Anna Kournikova. Her next mission is to win the Olympic Gold this year.
3) High-profile personal life. She is engaged to NBA player Sasha Vujacic for about two years already. However, Maria has managed to keep her personal life private. Good for her.
4) Nice personality. She was likable when she won the Wimbledon in her late teens, and she’s still likable now, especially after taking a career break to recover from injuries.
5) Intelligent businesswoman. Not many talk about her intelligence, but make no mistakes. Maria is smart. At age 24, she remains the top-earning female athlete in the world. She renewed her Nike deal in 2010. The new eight-year contract is worth up to $70 million. She receives royalties from her own tennis line and a line of bags and shoes through Cole Haan. She has endorsements with Canon, Prince, Tiffany, Tag Heuer and Land Rover. Of course she has agents and business advisors, but I have seen many interviews and appearances of her, where she exactly says what she is supposed to say. Nothing more, nothing less. When Nike signs an eight-year multi-million dollar contract, they must have some trust in the person who is going to represent them. She is not going to surprise us with Tiger-Woods-style lifestyle, or she is not going to have Serena-style outbursts on the court. Maybe it is somewhat dull, but I would call it simply “smart.”