Two of Nike’s most powerful — and marketable — tennis stars will face off tomorrow in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.
No. 1 seed Serena Williams will go shot for shot with No. 5 ranked Maria Sharapova in what’s widely considered a rivalry — the catch, though, is that Sharapova hasn’t beaten the world’s best player in almost 12 years.
While it remains to be seen if Sharapova can reverse the losing curse, one thing is for sure: the quarterfinal match will be a branding blockbuster for Nike.
Earlier in the tournament, Sharapova, who in 2010 extended her contract with the Beaverton, Ore.-based company for eight years for $70 million, hit the court in style. She wore the NikeCourt Maria Premier tennis dress and Nike Zoom Vapor sneakers.
Sharapova will need every aspect of her game running smooth if she is to have a shot at besting Williams.
Williams, who won the Australian Open last year against Sharapova, has been steamrolling through the tournament, having won her last match, against Margarita Gasparvan, in 29 minutes (6-2, 6-1).
Williams, who nearly captured all four major tennis tournaments in a single season in 2015 but came up short at the U.S. Open, has hit the courts in stunning fashion as well. She wore Nike’s bright yellow dress and NikeCourt sneakers in her earlier match.