Maria Sharapova may be skipping out on this year's U.S. Open (she tore her shoulder tendon last month), but she's certainly not crying in her soup, er, Gatorade—one of the many brands she currently endorses—over it. In fact, the little hiatus from tennis is simply giving Sharapova more time to concentrate on her other love: fashion. Or as she puts it, "I'd much rather be talking about clothes than forehands and backhands." And how. When we met Friday morning at Nike's New York headquarters (to, ironically, discuss the two Nike looks she was to wear while playing in the Open), she didn't miss a beat when asked to name her favorite designers. "I love all the clothes Alber at Lanvin does," she says. "I also like Thakoon, how he uses different materials and shapes. And Vera Wang does that unstructured look that's really cool. Oh, and Phillip Lim—he has that really young vibe. Oh, and Stella McCartney—she's actually one of my favorites." Indeed, I got the sense that if I didn't move the conversation forward, Sharapova's list might just outlast one of her stellar matches.
P.S. On Monday, Olympic and Wimbledon champ Venus Williams will chat with the W Editors' Blog about, you guessed it, fashion—with a little bit of tennis thrown in for good measure.
W: First things first. What are you wearing?
Maria Sharapova: This jacket is Derek Lam, the skirt is Phillip Lim and the sandals I bought in Australia two years ago. They were, like, $20.
W: You're here to talk about the Nike looks you were set to wear at the U.S. Open, which, sadly, you're not playing in this year. Let's talk about them anyway.
MS: The past few years at the Open, my outfits were more glamorous and glitzy whereas these are a little toned down but are still very, very elegant. There's my day dress, which I did in a really strong color. But for night, I wanted to step down and do something elegant and flowy, with an unfinished, vintage-inspired neckline. [White versions of each dress are now available at Nikestore.com.]
W: Who are you rooting for this year?
MS: When I'm not in the tournament, I don't really care. Someone said to me yesterday, 'What do you think of the draw?' And I was like, 'Oh, the draw's out?' I'm just focusing on getting better right now.
W: Are you doing anything fun in the meantime?
MS: I've been in Arizona for the last two weeks getting rehab on my shoulder for about three to four hours a day. This is the time that I never usually have to do things so I came to New York and have had a really busy schedule with meetings and promotional events that I previously committed to.
W: Have you had any time to shop?
MS: I was just in Soho a couple days ago. We just went to one store, Kirna Zabete, because I needed a pair of Rick Owens pants.
W: And exactly why did you need a pair of Rick Owens pants?
MS: I love his pants and every season he comes out with them in the same style but in different materials, and I just needed to get the new ones for fall!
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W: Are you sticking around for the New York collections next month?
MS: I have to go to Arizona for my shoulder but then I'm coming back. I'm going to the Peter Som show. Nothing else is set other than that, but I really want to go to Vera Wang, too.
W: What's on your must-have list for fall?
MS: I'll probably need a good pair of flat boots—I've got my eye out for those.
W: You're endorsing a ton of products right now. Just how many brands are you currently working with?
MS: Ummmm, let's see. There's Nike, Prince, Canon, Tiffany, and, um, help me out here [She looks over to her sports marketing rep Erryn Weggenman who chimes in with Land Rover and Sony Ericsson.] I'm still forgetting one. Oh yes, Tag Heuer! [Five minutes later, Weggenman suddenly shouts out another: "Gatorade!" For the record, they forgot to mention Colgate, Parlux and Tropicana.]
W: Various publications are always naming you the "hottest" female athlete. How do you maintain that hotness?
MS: I'm so minimal. Like with makeup, I barely wear any. I literally got up today and washed my face, brushed my teeth and put a little mascara on and was out the door. I don't even know what I look like.
Above: Maria Sharapova in her Nike day and night looks for the 2008 U.S. Open. The
looks, she says, "will go straight to the archives." Photos: Johnny Nunez