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Adidas by Stella McCartney Signs Rising Star Kirilenko

Adidas by Stella McCartney is getting into the athletic sponsorship arena and has signed on up-and-coming Russian tennis player Maria Kirilenko.

NEW YORK — The fashionable activewear line Adidas by Stella McCartney is getting into the athletic sponsorship arena and has signed up-and-coming Russian tennis player Maria Kirilenko.

Kirilenko, now ranked 25th on the Women’s Tennis Association tour, will wear apparel and footwear from the new tennis offerings from Adidas by Stella McCartney at all upcoming tournaments. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Kirilenko, who turns 19 later this month, made her first appearance in the line on Sunday in Sydney at the Australian Open, wearing a three-piece dusty pink tennis dress with a ruffled skirt and built-in neon orange under layer.

“Working with Maria has been so interesting from a design point of view,” Stella McCartney said in a statement. “We were able to eliminate items one felt less confident in and concentrate on items that enhanced her performance.”

Launched at retail last spring, Adidas by Stella McCartney has been a top seller for Adidas with items such as capri running pants, cut-out swimsuits and fleece jackets for Nordic walking, as well as related footwear and bags. The Stella tennis line will be available to consumers starting in March and ranges in retail price from $25 to $300.

Tennis players in recent years have worn more stylish, colorful looks and taken greater fashion risks on the court. Nike has been at the forefront of this development with its court outfits for Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, such as Williams’ performance denim skirt and motorcycle boots at the 2004 U.S. Open and Sharapova’s gold-inflected shoes and apparel for the 2005 Wimbledon tournament. Fila and Reebok have also developed more fashionable looks for the athletes they sponsor.

This story first appeared in the January 18, 2006 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.