Style Serve for Sharapova

The look hits on a key fashion trend for spring, as black-and-white looks are just beginning to hit stores.

NEW YORK — When Maria Sharapova steps out at the Nasdaq Open tennis tournament in Miami on Friday, she will unveil her latest fashion statement: a bold, black-and-white corset top and black skirt taken from Nike’s spring fitness dance collection.

“Maria asked Nike designers to adapt two key pieces from the collection for her on-court competitions, a first for her, as she typically prefers to play in a dress,” said Mindy Grossman, Nike’s global vice president of apparel. “Fitness dance is a category that takes styling from the street and the catwalk. Dancers then individualize and customize how they want to wear the pieces.”

The look also hits on a key fashion trend for spring, as black-and-white looks are just beginning to hit stores.

Sharapova, now fourth in World Tennis Association rankings, beat Elena Dementieva on Saturday to win the Pacific Life Open match in Indian Wells, Calif., her first victory since last June, when she took the DFS Classic in Birmingham, England. The 18-year-old fashion maven is known to flaunt her style on court with bold, colorful and often body-hugging looks.

Consumers who want to mimic her style can purchase the outfit at the Nasdaq retail tent, and similar designs are available at Niketown stores and at the nikewoman.com Web site, Grossman noted.

In the last few years, Nike has been working to elevate its women’s business around the world with a wider selection of products and a dedicated team of designers and merchants. As part of this effort, Nike has also been opening NikeWomen shops, adding women’s-specific environments to its Niketown formats and adding catalogues specifically for women, as well as a Web site, nikewomen.com.

Nike has also introduced more fashionable pieces, and this season the company introduced shrugs and layered tank tops in performance fabrics.

Grossman said Nike will unveil a new performance technology, MacroReact, in Sharapova’s looks for the U.S. Open in September, although she declined to reveal details. She also said Nike is developing high-tech sports bras and support products that will launch later this year.

This story first appeared in the March 23, 2006 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.