By Tiffany Hsu
9:36 AM PDT, August 20, 2012
Tennis great Maria Sharapova hits a mean volley. As a pitchwoman, she’s stumped for the likes of Tiffany, Tag Heuer, Canon and Nike. In her fashion design collaborations with Cole Haan, she produced the brand’s best-selling ballerina flat.
But apparently, the 25-year-old Russian and four-time Grand Slam winner isn’t busy enough. Sharapova is indulging her sweet tooth by launching a new company: a premium line of gummy candies called Sugarpova.
Starting Monday, the business will offer a dozen different sweets -- an “accessible bit of luxury,” according to the website. A portion of sales will be donated to the Maria Sharapova Foundation, which the star launched to benefit students in areas of Belarus affected by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear meltdown.
The candies feature names such as the lips-shaped Flirty, the bear-shaped Cheeky, the tennis ball-shaped Sporty and the Chic, which comes molded in tiny handbags, sunglasses and shoes. The goodies will be sold online as well as in several states at IT’SUGAR stores in malls and several Madame Tussauds wax museums.
Sharapova is already the world’s highest-paid female athlete for an eighth straight year, according to Forbes. She earned $27.1 million in the last 12 months -- $22 million of it from sponsors, exhibitions and appearance fees.
But for the most part, Sharapova hadn’t branched on her own as an entrepreneur before Sugarpova. She’s now planned a blitz of events to launch the brand, including a reveal at Henri Bendel on 5th Avenue in New York and a chat with Jimmy Fallon on his late night show.
Sharapova will have to compete with at least one other celebrity-backed candy operation. Dylan Lauren, daughter of designer Ralph Lauren, sells 5,000 types of sweets along with clothing, jewelry and accessories from her three Dylan’s Candy Bar locations. The brand is also expanding to Los Angeles and Miami Beach this year.
Still, it's all quite exciting -- until next week, when third-seeded Sharapova starts playing in the U.S. Open.
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