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Maria Sharapova wanted to talk shop on Thursday night, not sports. The very tall and very blonde tennis star was all wide green eyes and bright white grin at the Cole Haan party at their boutique in SoHo in honor of her latest collection for the label, and she wanted to discuss the shoes most of all. “I’m excited for the Open, and to be in New York and everything, but that’s not why I’m here tonight,” Sharapova said.“I mean, I’m not much of a ‘partier’ anyway, but I’m here to support the collection. It’s our fifth.”

Of the black, gray and dark plum colored shoes lining the displays behind her, Sharapova explained, “The palette is really neutrals for fall, classic items that are wearable, that make sense in New York.” Tennis balls peppered small patches of faux grass around the boutique, encircling one caterer, who shaved ice into plastic cups then filled them with vodka and lemon juice in the corner.

This story first appeared in the August 29, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“Oh, and flats,” Sharapova exclaimed as an afterthought. The tennis ace is 6’ 2” in her bare feet (the open toe Alexis bootie from her line made her roughly 6’ 6” at the fête) and she spent most of the party a full head and shoulders above the fray. “Yes, I’m tall,” Sharapova laughed. “It’s funny, someone just asked me at this party, ‘How is it, being so tall?’ and I just said, ‘Well, you know, I can see more…?’ What can you say? But being tall and active, having my feet be comfortable is really important to me. I mean, I live my life in flats. I want them to be stylish and comfortable too.”

Sharapova smoothed her Vera Wang dress with a hand heavily laden with a hefty diamond engagement ring. “New York has so many great restaurants and things, there’s no reason that you have to go out to clubs or parties to have a good time, we’re very happy to just be relaxed,” she explained of down-time with her fiancé, Sasha Vujacic, the shooting guard for the New Jersey Nets. Has the rabid three-ring circus of press around the nuptials of Vujacic’s teammate, Kris Humphries, to reality television star Kim Kardashian daunted the tennis star at all in planning her own wedding? “Oh, we haven’t set a date or anything,” she shrugged. “I mean, we’re just happy right now and we both have a lot going on. I don’t think that type of thing is really ‘us.’”

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