NEW YORK — While some tennis players like to make bold fashion statements at the U.S. Open, Maria Sharapova’s newest on-court look will be sleek and simple, reflecting her penchant for dresses and colors.
The stylish 18-year-old on Monday unveiled the Nike A-line dress she will wear at the upcoming matches. It’s a light blue number with yellow piping and is made out of Nike’s Sphere cooling fabric.
“I love to look elegant and this dress is very light and cool,” she told a packed house at the Town Tennis Club here. “The best thing about tennis is that you can wear cute little dresses and express your individuality.”
Sharapova, clad in a white tank top, light blue shorts, flip-flops, a cropped brown jacket and flashy jewelry, chatted with teenage girls who peppered her with questions about fashion, tennis and school. At the event, organized by Nike and moderated by MTV VJ Quddus, Sharapova seemed relaxed and joked about what it’s like for her to be in the public spotlight.
“I am a teenager, just like you,” she told the dozens of girls in the room, which was set up to resemble a teenager’s bedroom, complete with pink and purple pillows. “Sometimes I have bad hair days and I think nothing can help me.”
Sharapova said she plans to hit the Marc Jacobs store while in town and is a big fan of the Meatpacking District.
“It’s great to be in New York because the crowd is so into tennis and they love to scream and shout,” she said. “In Wimbledon, it’s very quiet and everyone is sipping their tea the whole time.”
The Open has become something of a catwalk for athletes and companies who use the matches to showcase new looks and test materials and products. Last year, Serena Williams wore performance denim and black leather looks from Nike that drew strong public reactions, although she has since toned down her looks. At Wimbledon, Sharapova showed her signature flair by wearing sneakers with real gold trim and a white pleated dress with gold piping.
Sharapova has a lot riding on the U.S. Open, since she hasn’t won a Grand Slam tournament this year after taking Wimbledon in 2004. She also dropped out of the recent Rogers Cup tournament in Toronto due to a shoulder injury. But she fulfilled a lifelong goal Monday when she became the top-ranked player on the Women’s Tennis Association Tour Singles Ranking. The rankings reflect a players performance, as well as her record against other players.
This story first appeared in the August 23, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“I feel optimistic about the Open and my shoulder is doing well,” she said.
Sharapova’s event was the first in a series of happenings around town for the Open, which takes place at the U.S. Tennis Center in Flushing, New York and sometimes brings together unlikely companies and players. On Tuesday, Sharapova will hit Fortunoff’s to unveil a new Tag Heuer watch, and on Thursday, Williams will stump for Land Rover to showcase new car models at the Manhattan Automobile Company.