Maria Sharapova plans to change her surname to ‘Sugarpova’ for the duration of the upcoming tennis Grand Slam, the US Open.
Former world number one Sharapova, the current richest female athlete in the world, has lodged an enquiry with the Supreme Court of Florida over a ‘quickie’ name change, which would then be changed back after the tournament concludes.
The idea, a publicity stunt for her outside business venture of branded candy, will reportedly also involve her sporting the ‘Sugarpova’ emblem – a striking pair of red lips – on her attire at Flushing Meadows.
The quite bizarre marketing move by Sharapova and her management company IMG looks likely to go ahead, too: there are no apparent legal barriers standing in her way.
Nonetheless, even with legal blessing she would likely also need the permission of the Grand Slam committee in order to see the thing all the way through, which would mean having stadium announcers, the umpire and even the scorecards address her as ‘Miss Sugarpova’ or ‘M. Sugarpova’.
Sharapova founded the company with her own money and it is estimated that 1.8 million bags of the sweets – which come with labels such as ‘flirty’, ‘sassy’ and ‘smitten’ – were sold worldwide last year.
The 2013 US Open begins on Monday and runs until September 9. Sharapova won the Grand Slam in 2006.
UPDATE: Sharapova will now not be going ahead with this move according to her agent Max Eisenbud. From ESPN:
"We ultimately decided against it. Maria has pushed her team to do fun, out-of-the-box-type things to get the word out about Sugarpova," Eisenbud said. "In Miami, we're going to fill a glass truck full of candy and drive it around town. This was an idea that fell along those lines. But, at the end of the day, we would have to change all her identification, she has to travel to Japan and China right after the tournament and it was going to be very difficult."
In order to change her name, Sharapova -- who is a Russian citizen but has a green card and resides in Florida -- would have had to file a name change petition in the state, submit fingerprints, have a background check and have a hearing before a judge. If the judge signed an order, the name change would be official.
So Sharapova will not be changing her name but she has got all this publicity for Sugarpova. I guess you could say that's job done...