By Tumaini Carayol
(April 22, 2013) STUTTGART – Despite the tournament website mischievously stating otherwise, no singles main draw matches graced the opening day of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. Instead, focus laid firmly off-court as certain players endeavored to complete their media obligations early. As usual, it was one player stole the show.
It was 9am when the few journalists awake and present were carted off to an unspecified press conference with the main tournament sponsors, Porsche, in the world-renowned Porsche Museum. Limited details on this mysterious news conference were disclosed, aside from the promise of a mystery revelation, and general interest was low. As the Porsche representatives spoke to the mixed crowd of tennis and car-specialist media, the assembly appeared in danger of falling asleep.
Then, out of nowhere, Maria Sharapova appeared.
It was actually unintentional. The Russian had accidentally stepped out from behind the curtains before she was announced, ruining the moment clumsily as only she could. An usher behind the curtains attempted to pull her back behind the scenes before the photographers overwhelmed her, but she simply shrugged off the hand. Instead, Sharapova laughed off her faux pas before immediately switching into her hair-swishing, posing mode as the sound of shutters instantly filled the room.
Half an hour later, she would engage with the cameras again as she posed behind the wheel of a model Porsche before floating across the room to answer numerous questions with charming aplomb at a round-table press conference with the tennis media. As per usual, agent and business partner Max Eisenbud appeared out of nowhere, swooping by to place a packet of Sugarpova in full view of the cameras. Once finished, she then happily accepted a request for a one-on-one interview – but not before playfully tossing the packet of her candy towards the reporters.
But back to the present. Two minutes after her accidental arrival, Porsche would announce Sharapova as their second ever brand ambassador, first non-motorsport related brand ambassador, first global ambassador and first female brand ambassador. It’s not difficult to understand why.
Tumaini Carayol is in Stuttgart covering the Stuttgart tournament for Tennis Panorama News. He is a contributing writer at On The Baseline, and writes about professional tennis at his site Foot Fault.