Maria Sharapova may be taking the concept of personal branding to an entirely new level. According to London newspaper The Times, the Russian tennis player is looking to temporarily change her surname to "Sugarpova" for next week's US Open in New York, as part of a campaign to promote her candy brand of the same name. Sharapova, a four-time Grand Slam champion, has reportedly inquired about the name change with authorities in Florida, where she has a residence. According to the Times, Sharapova would go by Sugarpova for the duration of the two-week tournament, before returning to her real name upon its conclusion.
According to Forbes, Sharapova earned $23 million in endorsement deals and appearance fees last year, making her the world's highest-paid female athlete. She launched the Sugarpova line of candy in the US last year before expanding to other markets, though health advocates have criticized her for promoting unhealthy eating habits to young tennis fans.
The Sugarpova logo — a pair of red lips — is also expected to figure prominently in Sharapova's on-court wardrobe next week, though it remains unclear whether her proposed name change will actually happen. If it does, she would join NBA player Metta World Peace (formerly Ron Artest) and NFL wide receive Chad Ochocinco (Chad Johnson) as some of the most high-profile athletes to change identities mid-career, but would likely be the first to do so in the name of sugar.
Update: Sharapova's agent told ESPN that she is no longer considering the name change. While he said that Sharapova is constantly encouraging "fun, out-of-the-box-type" promotions for her candy line, she ultimately decided that the name change would be too difficult.