NEW YORK -- Land Rover and tennis star Maria Sharapova have signed a three-year partnership that will have the Russian ace lend her name to the automaker's marketing efforts.
The 18-year-old Wimbledon champion will take part in Land Rover events and activities, and may appear in future advertising, said Sally Eastwood, Land Rover vice president of marketing.
The agreement involves Land Rover's operations in the United States, United Kingdom and Russia. Sharapova will not wear the Land Rover logo on her apparel when she is competing. Eastwood declined to give the dollar value of the deal.
Sharapova said the genesis of the deal started more than two years ago when she was a relative nobody on the tennis circuit -- yet Land Rover still loaned her courtesy cars.
"It was a cool, friendly relationship," Sharapova said in an interview with Automotive News. "I was a huge Land Rover fan even back then. I was excited that they even knew who I was."
Sharapova once took Land Rover boss Mike O'Driscoll for a demo drive in his personal LR3 up Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, conveniently forgetting to tell him she still only had a learner's permit.
After her Wimbledon victory, Sharapova bought a Land Rover. With the marketing deal, Sharapova said she had just ordered a black supercharged Range Rover. Sharapova already has marketing deals with Canon, Motorola, Nike and Tag Heuer, among others, amounting to nearly $22 million a year in endorsements.
Land Rover's association with Sharapova comes on the heels of the automaker signing golfer Greg Norman to a similar partnership. Eastwood said the two deals give Land Rover a wider appeal to different consumer groups.
"Maria is poised, elegant and professional," Eastwood said. "She is a good fit for the brand."
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