While you may know Maria Sharapova from her time as a decorated, professional tennis player, her accomplishments expand far beyond that. Since retiring from tennis in 2020, Sharapova has been busy building her investment and business portfolios.
Currently, Sharapova is a board member of Moncler, among other brands, and she founded premium candy brand Sugarpova in 2012. Aside from her business endeavors, Sharapova is also an investor in wellness and beauty brands, including Bala Bangles, Therabody and Supergoop! And on top of that, she became a new mother in July 2022. Though Sharapova is juggling many hats, she said her main focuses are motherhood and continuing to build upon her authority in the investor space.
“[I’m looking forward to] continuing to align with brands that have incredibly strong foundations. It’s a tough time for many people that are entrepreneurs,” Sharapova shared on the latest episode of The Glossy Podcast. “Investing your time and finances into the stage in a company when no one is really taking chances on people is ultimately where I’d like to step in and see opportunity.”
Below are additional highlights from the conversation, which have been lightly edited for clarity.
Advice for new founders
“Never forget your early days. Never forget all the tasks you had to do that weren’t in your role — that’s extremely important. As a founder, you wear so many different hats, but as you move up the ladder, you can’t be 100% of everything you do. This idea of having a healthy balance, whether it’s [your personal] life or your work, doesn’t exist. You have to find what’s right for you, but never forget the small tasks. … It’s so easy to lose that perspective of being hungry when you’re on the successful path. You feel like everything’s at your fingertips, and what founders don’t realize is it can change so quickly. Just because this year was successful, just because you had a fantastic collaboration and it sold out within minutes, that doesn’t mean the next collaboration will do the same. … Just have that in the back of your mind. Raising $5 million or $100 million doesn’t mean you’re successful; it means you hold this incredible responsibility to perform and prove [youself] to everyone that’s invested, which is a lot of pressure. It comes with a heaviness. I see many entrepreneurs get excited about a fundraise because they feel like they’ve just won. But now you have to take that money and do something with it, and that’s the hardest part.”
The key to building your personal brand as an athlete
“Sports are very expensive. No matter what sport you play, the amount of money that you, your family or your agents have to invest before they see any return on that investment is humongous. … So when you reach a certain point when a brand offers you a big paycheck, it’s hard to say no. It takes all the strength in the world and very smart and knowledgeable people to help guide you and help you understand [which deals to make], especially when you’re young because you don’t know. It’s hard to have a real grip on the business [of brand deals], and to understand what people really want from you and how authentic it is. Listen to the people that you’re close with, particularly when you’re young. You have to surround yourself with strong people that are looking after you and not trying to make money from you. I know that’s much easier said than done, but that is so important. One of the reasons I was able to save money and feel like I could make smart investments in the future was because I had someone that protected me. Also, it’s about aligning your interests. If it’s fashion you’re interested in, if it’s technology or if it’s a particular value or people that you just find are interesting, that’s what you go for. There’s a lot to consider, and I’d say relationships that maybe start as smaller deals, but have a very strong foundation that will put in marketing dollars to elevate you as a human, might be worth more than taking a big paycheck from a company that doesn’t have a lot of marketing spend. … Be smart with people you align with, and choose partners that will further help elevate who you are.”