Sharapova Sits Out U.S. Open

But her specially designed Nike dresses will still go on sale.

The U.S. Open is minus its golden girl this season.

Maria Sharapova’s shoulder injury is doing more than keep her out of the game — it’s also red-carding her popular outfits and accessories.

This story first appeared in the August 27, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“My biggest disappointment was when I found out a few weeks ago that I would be missing the Olympics and U.S. Open,” said Sharapova — who won the Open in 2006 — during a visit to New York last week. “A lot more goes into a tournament than just playing.”

Both the day and evening tennis dresses designed for Sharapova to wear at this year’s Open more than likely will never be worn, instead going straight to the archives. The night dress has two black layers: an under one of body-hugging premium Dri-Fit, and an over layer of permanently pleated Dri-Fit in ultrafine, transparent jersey. The day dress is a simplified version of the night style and is in a bold concord blue color.

“The U.S. Open is known for being a ‘red-carpet’ extravaganza, and we wanted to design something fresh and innovative with all the performance benefits Maria needs to compete and look her best on the court,” said Colleen Sandieson, who has designed Sharapova’s Nike tennis dresses for two years. “Of course we are disappointed, given the fact that this is one of Maria’s favorite tournaments and [given] the accomplishments she has achieved in the past, but we’re excited to bring Maria’s inspiration and our collaboration with her to consumers who we hope will be just as excited about the U.S. Open day and night dress collection.”

While they may not be worn, Nike isn’t letting what becomes of one of its most high-profile designs be lost completely to its star’s injury. A limited collection still will be available at nikestore.com for $95 for the day dress and $110 for the night dress.

But some plans have been altered. The dress was going to be displayed at Tiffany & Co.’s Wall Street and Fifth Avenue stores, along with the earrings Frank Gehry designed for the tennis star in collaboration with Tiffany, but that was pulled when Sharapova bowed out of the tournament, according to Nike.

The Tiffany link is part of a bigger two-year partnership between the jeweler and Sharapova, where she would wear the brand’s earrings at the four Grand Slam events. The partnership launched at the French Open this year, with Sharapova wearing earrings from existing collections for that tournament and Wimbledon. The U.S. Open would have been the first time she had earrings designed especially for her. The Gehry-designed earrings will be part of the Stria collection, according to Nike.

“We look forward to working with Maria on future tournaments, such as the Australian Open in 2009,” a Tiffany spokeswoman said.

As a recent U.S. Open winner, Sharapova took part in Monday’s opening ceremonies, but then headed to rehab for her shoulder. She hopes to make it back in time for a few New York Fashion Week shows — usually tough to attend because they conflict with the Open — including Peter Som and Vera Wang.

Of all the designs she has worn at the U.S. Open, which dress has been her favorite? The Audrey Hepburn-inspired little black dress she wore two years ago — “but maybe the fact I won with that dress helps,” Sharapova added.