Ana Ivanovic can beat Maria Sharapova on the court but can she compete with her in the land of endorsements?

When I opened my email box this morning, I found this curious bit of information courtesy of Bob Larson’s Tennis News: Ana Ivanovic will try to beat Justine Henin and win the French Open title on Saturday without the services of her temporary coach, Sven Groeneveld. Groeneveld has been working with her at the French Open as part of an agreement with apparel maker adidas but therein likes the problem: Groeneveld’s contract forbids him from helping Ivanovic in the title match because Henin also wears adidas.

Essentially, adidas loaned a coach to one of their players for a slam event but only as long it didn’t threaten another adidas player. I have tried but I cannot think of any reason why this should be. Can you? Since when do apparel companies choose coaches for their clients? Aren’t managers supposed to do that?

I find Ana Ivanovic every bit as beautiful as Maria Sharapova so I was wondering: can Ivanovic become the endorsement magnet that Sharapova is? Can you be big and dark or do you have to be blond and skinny?

Anna Kournikova was the endorsement queen before Sharapova and she was a different story. She was all about sex. Sharapova is more like the imperious fashion model and less the alluring sex kitten. Ivanovic is the wide eyed girl who grew up amidst the bombs in Serbia and now lives in Basel, Switzerland.

Because Ivanovic does not reside in the U.S., she may have to take the same path to endorsement riches as her fellow Basel resident, Roger Federer. He didn’t get a GQ spread with photos by Annie Leibovitz until after he’d won ten slams.

Kournikova never won a singles title in her career but that didn’t stop her from getting a television commercial featuring Mary Jo Fernandez advising us that players were jealous of Kournikova’s, ahem, “portfolio”. That’s just how it is when you’re one of the sexiest people in the universe. You could be a bricklayer and you’d still get endorsements. Ivanovic comes across more as the friendly fashion model type with a bit of wide eyed wholesomeness thrown in. She may have to win a few slams before we see her beautiful face plastered all over our television sets.

I, for one, will be happy to see that.

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Ana Ivanovic can beat Maria Sharapova on the court but can she compete with Maria Sharapova for endorsements off the court? Yes or no?


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