Maria Sharapova Defends US Open Title in New York Style

    Sharapova Unveils Custom Day and Evening Dresses Designed to Match Her
    Explosive Play and Iconic On-Court Style

    NEW YORK, Aug. 22 /CNW/ -- Today on the rooftop of Rockefeller Center,
Maria Sharapova showed why New York is a magical place for her as she unveiled
her 2007 US Open day and evening dresses she'll wear for match play.  One of
the world's most dynamic cities, New York is a venue where the tennis star
proved today she could indulge in her love of fashion and sense of style while
making a powerful statement on the court.  The defending champion joined Nike
designers for a press conference to debut her custom, atomic red,
Swarovski-crystal encrusted evening dress she'll take to the court in for her
first round match.  She modeled the flared, shift-silhouette dress set against
the backdrop of the New York City skyline that inspired its design.  She also
presented a custom white and black version she'll wear for day matches.
    Last year, Sharapova began solidifying her iconic approach to performance
and style by taking on-court wear to a new level by competing in custom
dresses designed specially for her day and evening matches.  Best known at
last year's tournament for the "little black dress" she wore for evening
matches, Maria sent a clear message about her style while on her way to
winning the 2006 title.  Continuing the trend for this year's US Open, Maria
will turn heads again in new custom outfits that showcase her impeccable sense
of style while incorporating cutting-edge technical features, allowing her to
perform at her very best.
    Building on the success of their past collaborations, Nike and Maria
worked together for the 2nd time, specifically for the US Open to create
coordinated tennis outfits for day and night matches that seamlessly blend
beauty and performance. "Nike has always understood my desire to make a big
impression in New York," says Maria. "And the dresses that we've worked on for
the US Open have always looked as good as they feel when I'm playing. This
year is especially exciting because the designs are inspired by the city
itself. "
    For Nike Head of Global Tennis Apparel Gill Brown, working with Maria was
an opportunity to design apparel for an athlete whose fashion instinct is as
refined as her game: "She is dedicated to tennis and shows the same amount of
passion for her apparel -- a real perfectionist," says Gill. "For the US Open,
our challenge was to design a look that connects Maria to New York and will be
special to her. The answer is the skyline graphic, which links the day and
night dress together in a very dramatic way."
    New York by Night
    For Maria's night matches, designers worked with her to create a
knee-length atomic red dress with a simple, flared shift silhouette in ultra
lightweight Dri-FIT jersey.  The Dri-FIT fabrication is elegant and sleek,
delivering a fluid silhouette, ease of movement, moisture management, and
breathability. No-sew constructed seams throughout not only provide a clean
finish to the dress, but also guarantee minimum abrasion and maximum comfort.
    In addition to its feminine detailing, the dress is done in an atomic red
hue, a striking element that stands out as powerfully as her forehand.  The
tennis star played a big part in selecting the right shade, innately aware of
which color would best enhance the style she wanted for this tournament and
what it might symbolize. Red, after all, is the color closely associated with
the Big Apple, from the carpets during fashion week to the twinkling
taillights on 5th Avenue at night.  After winning in New York last year, red
seemed the most appropriate color for Maria to make her red carpet return to
the tournament.
    Knowing Maria's affinity for the energy and glamour of New York, Nike
integrated New York's famous skyline into the dress, thereby artfully uniting
her game with her favorite city.  Maria's evening dress literally and
figuratively reflects the backdrop of the city at night.  The front graphic
design is patterned after the skyline with an abstract twist as the design is
inverted and featured upside down.  By incorporating more than 600 authentic
Swarovski crystals, the result is a stunning neckline worthy of any red carpet
appearance.  The New York skyline is represented in the night dress by more
than 600 Swarovski crystals, creating the stunning night skyline of one of the
fashion capitals of the world. Three crystal buttons down the back create a
triple keyhole effect that offers ventilation and an attractive,
functional-yet-stylish appearance.
    New York by Day
    For Maria's day matches, designers worked with her to create a classic
black and white dress with a simple, flared shift silhouette also done in an
ultra lightweight Dri-FIT jersey. The outfit is enhanced with feminine
detailing such as an upper body and overlay hem in transparent Dri-FIT jersey.
Dramatic elements like the stunning graphics on the front -- that offers a
similar interpretation of the New York skyline flipped on the inverse -- and a
sexy scooped back neckline appeal to Maria's aesthetic sensibility.
    Designers also integrated New York's famous skyline into the day dress.
Both aesthetic and functional, the abstract graphic -- depicting the inverted,
angular shapes of Manhattan's towering buildings and shadows -- adorns the
transparent fabric of the upper body. By using a laser-cut, heat bonded self
fabric and a highly contrasting color combination, Nike has transformed this
notorious landscape into a striking, negative-print effect.
    These kinds of dramatic visual touches, along with unexpected elements
like a sexy scooped-back neckline, appeal to both Maria's aesthetic and
athletic sensibilities.
    "Details such as these that are extremely important to Maria," says
senior designer Colleen Sandieson. "Not only do they make her feel special,
but they also help enhance her performance." The scoop-back design not only
facilitates movement, but also creates a flattering appearance that rivals
current runway looks. Again, Dri-FIT fabrication delivers a fluid silhouette,
ease of movement, moisture management, and breathability. The no-sew
constructed seams offer minimum abrasion with maximum comfort.  With its
color-block palette of black and white, the day dress is the epitome of
simplicity, beauty, and athletic elegance. Atomic red, seamless shorts inject
an added flash of color for an eye-catching finish.
    The Venue
    The fourth of the 2007 Grand Slam tournaments, the US Open will take
place August 27th - September 8th in New York. Tune in as Maria models (by
playing in) the dress she inspired, resetting the boundary where beauty and
performance meet.

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