Photo: Bjorn Looss Trunk Archive
Between her talent—she’s currently ranked 2nd in the world for women’s tennis—and her height—6-foot-2—Maria Sharapova is larger than life. A decade ago, the 27-year-old Russian native catapulted to fame by beating Serena Williams to win Wimbledon. She has gone on to win five grand slam tournaments and thanks to a savvy business sense and partnerships with brands like Nike, Canon, and now Avon, Maria is the world’s highest paid female athlete—a title she’s held onto for over decade. Gorgeous, savvy, and powerful both on and off the court, Maria talks beauty tips, vodka, and what makes her so competitive.
BB: I’m so happy to interview you for Yahoo Beauty. Watching you play tennis always makes me wish I could play better. My husband owns a tennis club and hits a mean ball, but unfortunately I can’t play!
MS: [Laughs.] Well I am not good at many other things, so I am lucky to be good at that.
BB: But you’re a businesswoman, model and a high-ranking tennis player—is there really anything you’re not great at?
MS: I am not a great dancer! There are many things I am not great at. I haven’t perfected cooking because I haven’t had the time, but I really love food. I really wish that I could be a good cook, especially for my future children one day.
BB: What kind of food do you love?
MS: I grew up with Russian cuisine, with my grandmother’s cooking, so I would have to go with that. Like borscht and Russian dumplings, and all of the different salads, it’s a type of comfort food.
BB: My grandparents are Russian, so I love the food, too. I also love vodka—it’s probably in my blood!
MS: I don’t like straight vodka. I do like a cocktail with vodka in it!
BB: Oh I love straight vodka. I am very Russian! So talk to me about fragrance—you spoke about your mother and grandmother, do you remember them ever wearing perfume when you were a little girl?
MS: Yes absolutely. I remember when we came over to the United States, I was still quite young, I wasn’t familiar with makeup or beauty or fragrance, but I remember my mom’s drawer, and as a young girl you always look at the pretty bottles. My first memory of fragrance is trying all these different scents. It’s a rookie mistake, spraying on like five at a time. You don’t know what’s going on, they are all so pretty and you are doing something your mom doesn’t know about. Later she gave me one of her bottles—an Estee Lauder bottle—that I loved using for many years.
Avon’s Luck perfume campaign
BB: You’re the face of Avon’s new fragrance Luck, tell me about it.
MS: I would say it has a very light oriental texture with a bit of white flower. Some of my friends have said it’s a fruity, but to me it is a flower base, which is nice because I usually tend to go for fragrances that I can put on in the morning and carry with me throughout the whole day. That is part of my lifestyle, as it is for many women. We’re all so busy that we lean toward something with which you can start and finish off your day.
BB: I love that it’s called Luck. Do you feel like luck has had anything to do with your success? It looks to me like it’s thanks to your drive, determination, and skill.
MS: Yeah for me I have always gone by the motto, “The harder you work the more luck you receive,” because I really do believe that you create your own luck. When something happens to you in a moment where you think, “Gosh that was lucky.” But when you actually think about it you realize, “I worked for luck to come at this period of time, I just didn’t expect it in this moment.” That is kind of how I see luck. It is a big part of my career and I play a very individual sport and sometimes it feels good to be lucky, but on occasion you’re like, “No, I actually worked for that moment to go my way.”
Maria being fitted in Chloe. Instagram @mariasharapova
BB: In addition to being an incredible athlete, you have this intense business savvy. How did you learn that?
MS: I became interested in business and started working with blue chip brands where I would sit in meetings with incredibly talented people in different fields—whether it was marketing or creative from Nike to TAG Heuer. I wanted to be part of the process and be part of the commitment. I know it sounds cliché, but it’s never just your name or picture on a product, and I think that is one of the reasons I have been successful. I have really enjoyed the process of getting to know a brand—its history, its heritage, its goals, kind of taking that in because I never had a traditional education. I started my candy brand Sugarpova a few years ago, and I had no idea about candy. I took all of the expertise that I’d gathered in all those years.
BB: I also learned everything about business from on-the job training; I never went to business school, so I do understand. You’re both aggressive and powerful on the court, are you that way when it comes to work?
MS: I am very competitive [laughing] and I think that shows not just in tennis, but in everything else that I do. I am very competitive away from the court. I’ve worked with most of the brands for years, so I carry a close connection to them. I become competitive even though most of them are not my brands! I do have that will and determination to succeed and I think one of the reasons is because I try not to fear failure and I try not to shy away from experimenting, to set goals that are way beyond my reach. Even if I just achieve a small part of it, it puts a smile on my face.
Behind the scenes at a Net-a-Porter shoot. Instagram @mariasharapova
BB: I also see you as incredibly confident. Have you always been that way?
MS: I was always kind of the odd one out, because when I moved to the United States I was surrounded by American kids. I was the only foreigner in the group. I was also the youngest, so I learned how to stand up for myself and how to be brave. Confidence is a very important thing, and not just on the outside. You must feel it inside in order for it to shine through.
BB: Do you ever get nervous? Whether on the court or before a Sports Illustrated swimsuit shoot?
MS: Of course! We all get nervous, without that we wouldn’t be human. When I go on the court and I’m walking through the tunnels and I realize, “Oh my gosh, I am going to be playing in front of thousands of people”—if you really think about it, it is really scary! But then I look back and I know I’ve spent so many hours training when no one can see me and it’s freezing outside and I’m working to get better. No one sees those moments, so you do everything you can to win a tennis match because you’re the reason they are there. They paid for a ticket so you are almost like an entertainer. It’s a privilege, and it changes the way you think.
Behind the scenes at a Self magazine shoot. Instagram @mariasharapova
BB:. Do you do your own makeup before hitting the court?
MS: No,I don’t go on court with makeup. People always ask me about my beauty routine, but I think that beauty always comes in the way that you take care of your skin—not in the makeup you put on your face. Hydrating your skin, getting enough sleep, wearing sunscreen, those things are so basic, but we overlook them so often. I grew up playing in the Florida sun since I was seven years old and sunscreen was such a huge part of my beauty regime and still is.
BB: You are so incredibly centered for someone who has grown up in the public eye; it’s wonderful to speak with you. I hope to meet you soon! You’re 6’2 and I am 5’ so I can only imagine the photo-op!
MS: [Laughs]. I will make sure I don’t wear heels.
BB: It’s ok. Like you, I have to be confident in my own skin because it’s the only one I have.
MS: I like that!
BB: It has been a pleasure. Good luck with everything.