By Stefanie Kratter
Maria Sharapova already has a career grand slam, having won the French Open title earlier this year. She also just added Olympic Silver Medalist to her resume. She's scored countless sponsorships with major brands including Cole Haan, Nike, Evian, Head, Samsung, and TAG Heuer. But now she is out with a brand of her own.
As she competes for her second U.S. Open title this week, she's fresh off the New York City launch of her new premium line of gummy candies called "Sugarpova." The collection consists of twelve different varieties of candies, ranging from gummies and licorice to gumballs that are in the shape of tennis balls.
|Slideshow: Top Athletes And Their Endorsements|
The candies are available online at Sugarpova.com and at Fifth Avenue retailer Henri Bendel. They will also be sold in hotel minibars.
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.
Sharapova credits her years of work with marketing executives for inspiring her to start her own business. A self-proclaimed foodie, she says her sweet tooth only quickened her desire to start this venture. But it was really her many collaborations with top brand experts that gave her the confidence she needed to make the business a reality.
With over 7.6 million facebook fans, Sharapova hopes her popularity around the world will help her business become an international hit by next year. So far, she couldn’t be happier with the reaction it has received here in the U.S.
So how does the 25-year-old entrepreneur plan to balance her new business with a demanding tennis career? She said the combination of the two have been a nice complement so far adding, "While working on Sugarpova, it has been the time when I came back to No. 1, won Roland Garros. So in a way I see it as my lucky charm."
She may be firing on all cyclinders now, but the road wasn't always easy for Sharapova. She battled her way back from right-shoulder surgery in October 2008 and has now re-established herself among the game’s elite.
Sharapova is now the highest paid female athlete in the world according to Forbes, making a total of $27.9 million in the last year -- $22 million of it from sponsors, exhibitions and appearance fees.
Sharapova is currently ranked third in women's singles. She advanced to the second round of the U.S. Open on Monday.