NEW YORK — Judging by her win at Wimbledon on Saturday, it would seem that 17-year-old Maria Sharapova was born to play tennis. But her squeal of sheer delight on Wednesday at the sight of a dressing room in the DKNY store stocked with frilly dresses, tweed coats and silky tops — all waiting for her to try on — tells a different story.

This girl was born to shop. She is Russian, after all. Isn’t it in the blood?

This story first appeared in the July 8, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“Where to start!” she cries to her two teenage friends as she slips on a $2,400 rose-colored shearling coat from DKNY’s fall collection. They all scream.

“I am a fashion freak,” Sharapova declares, prancing in front of the mirrors. “I am such a girly-girl.”

The group’s conquests include Barneys, where Sharapova picks up a rope-like Kendra Miller necklace, and Scoop, where she scores the AG jeans she’s paired with a Diane von Furstenberg top. Lunch is at Serafina. (On Tuesday, she hit Bergdorf Goodman. “Where have we not been shopping?” she laughs.)

“I need something to wear to TRL [Total Request Live] this afternoon,” Sharapova tells the small army assembled to help her. A sheer purple camisole with a tweed purple mini is tried, ogled over, then discarded as wrong for the show, though she’ll still take it. “Too conservative,” she pooh-poohs, narrowing her green eyes. (For the record, Sharapova wears a size 2, sometimes a 4, and a 9 1/2 size shoe.)

She successively twirls through countless more outfits, emerging from the dressing room on tiptoes, like a seasoned pro, and looking like she stepped off the DKNY runway every time. A minion is dispatched for some lace-up high heels. Sharapova’s 6-foot frame teeters a bit when tying one on, and everyone lunges to grab her. Doesn’t she worry about snapping an ankle?

“Never,” she replies.

At last, she picks a sunny yellow dress and matching sweatshirt for her TRL appearance.

But she’s not finished. There’s an olive suede coat, an olive evening dress and several other shirts, sweaters and shoes to try. She’ll take them all.

Sharapova says she would love to design her own line one day but, then, wouldn’t every celebrity these days? “But not tenniswear. Regular clothes,” she says. Nike sponsors her, and she wears its sportswear on the court, though she has some input on color and design (for the business view of Sharapova’s future, see page 10).

She’s been photographed with the all-the-rage Chanel Ligne Cambon bag, and wearing Louis Vuitton. Who’s her favorite? “Marc Jacobs,” she sighs. “I wore a Louis Vuitton dress to the Wimbledon Ball. It’s my favorite dress — ever!”

She says her closet at home in Florida is not big enough for her shopping habit. When she’s packing for the road, though, she can “always throw stuff in my dad’s bag if I don’t have room.”

Sharapova is back in training on Monday, but she’ll return to New York for the U.S. Open, which just happens to coincide with Fashion Week. She’s hoping to score tickets to some shows.

How has her life changed in the last five days?

“No marriage proposals,” says the tennis star, “but lots of invitations to parties.”

— Alison Burwell