Cole Haan has tapped Maria Sharapova as the face of its new collection, Cole Haan Sporting, a series of accessories geared toward the sport lifestyle, to debut for spring.

This story first appeared in the September 9, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The tennis star will also collaborate on the line’s second season for fall 2009.

Cole Haan Sporting features Nike technology in every wedge, flat and sandal aimed at providing comfort and support. The accessories — ranging from tennis bags to duffles to clutches — are created from recycled plastic bottles and trimmed in vegetable chrome-free leather.

For Sharapova, who is also under contract with brands such as Nike, Prince and Tag Heuer, the partnership gives her an opportunity to test her talents off the court.

“I’ve worked with Nike in the past on codesigning outfits and I enjoy the process of how it’s all made and how it comes together,” Sharapova said of the activewear giant, which owns Cole Haan. “I just hope that I can bring my experience to this traditional brand and add some excitement and edge and youth from the design aspect.”

A triple Grand Slam winner, Sharapova has been in the limelight as much for her fashion sense as for her tennis game. After an injury left her sitting out the Olympic Games and the U.S. Open, Sharapova is looking toward her post-tennis life.

“You have to be smart about these things because anything can happen,” Sharapova said. “I have to look ahead and think about where I want to be in 10 years and this is a wonderful step. I have a passion for fashion and if I weren’t playing tennis, I’d probably be in school for it or for interior design.”

Cole Haan Sporting will be sold at the company’s boutiques worldwide and select department stores. Prices range from $115 to $200 for footwear and $225 to $550 for accessories.

“It’s a unique collection for us that brings the best of Cole Haan craftsmanship with Maria,” said Jim Seuss, chief executive officer at Cole Haan. “We haven’t done a full collaboration in the 80 years since we began, so it’s very special.”

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