August 17, 2006

Maria Sharapova Dispels "Pretty Girl" Image In First Solo Campaign

NEW YORK (17 August, 2006) – With the final tennis slam of the year beginning August 28, Nike unveils its first television commercial spotlighting Maria Sharapova. Maria is currently ranked No. 4 in the world and she has just won her 12th career title following her victory at the recent Acura Tennis Classic.

The campaign leads with an advertising spot that playfully communicates the message that beneath Maria’s beautiful, feminine exterior lives the intense competitive appetite of one of the top athletes in the world. “I’m excited about this ad because not only is Nike drawing attention to women’s tennis, but there’s also an empowering message for female athletes that it’s okay to be fierce and competitive on the court and still have a feminine side off court,” said Sharapova.

“Nike has a long history of celebrating the 'beauty' of sport in many different ways,” said Adam Roth, Nike’s Director of Advertising. “In Maria's case, true beauty lies in her intensity, her athleticism and her competitive spirit. This campaign has some well-intentioned fun with the idea that it's a big mistake to underestimate Maria, or any other talented, hard-working female athlete."

The ad features Maria during her pre-game routine as she travels from her hotel to center court, passing hotel bellmen, fans and other players – all as they are singing “I Feel Pretty.” Through this procession, she remains focused on the upcoming match. As she enters Arthur Ashe stadium, the crowd is singing as the song reaches a crescendo. She hits an explosive shot, letting out one of her famous grunts, silencing the audience.

In the ad, Maria will debut her Nike performance tennis dress for New York. However, the performance dress worn in the ad is just one half of her unique look for the New York slam. In a new twist, for the first time, Maria will unveil a separate, custom made performance dress for her evening matches in New York as well.

The commercial features appearances by tennis Hall of Fame inductee John McEnroe, his brother and captain of the 2004 U.S. Men’s Olympic tennis team, Patrick McEnroe, and two-time tennis Olympic gold medalist Mary Joe Fernandez.

The campaign premieres on Sunday, August 20th during the Teen Choice Awards on the Fox Network.

About Maria Sharapova Maria Sharapova’s first grand slam victory came at the age of 17 when she triumphed during an exciting final at the 2004 Wimbledon Championships. Soon after Wimbledon, she became the first Russian woman to be ranked No. 1 in the world. Sharapova’s accomplishments as a tennis player are hard earned. At the age of seven, she and her father emigrated from Russia to Florida so Maria could focus on her tennis. Maria was separated from her mother for the first two years, but the sacrifice paid off and by the age of 14 Sharapova turned pro. Currently 19 years old, Maria is ranked the No. 4 women’s tennis player in the world and holds 12 career titles including her win at the recent Acura Tennis Classic.

About NIKE, Inc. Based near Beaverton, Oregon is the world's leading designer, marketer and distributor of authentic athletic footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories for a wide variety of sports and fitness activities. Wholly owned Nike subsidiaries include Converse Inc., which designs, markets and distributes athletic footwear, apparel and accessories; Bauer NIKE Hockey Inc., a leading designer and distributor of hockey equipment; Cole Haan, which designs, markets, and distributes fine dress and casual shoes and accessories; Hurley International LLC, which designs, markets and distributes action sports and youth lifestyle footwear, apparel and accessories and Exeter Brands Group LLC, which designs and markets athletic footwear and apparel for the value retail channel.