"Love" is not a great phrase in tennis - it's game slang for zero. But when we saw Maria Sharapova's new collection for Cole Haan, "love" was indeed the definitive word. (See also: "adore," "die for" and "need.") It's not just the heels we can actually walk in, and the purses big enough to hold our real-life stuff. It's the fact that everything is cute - way cute - and neutral enough to match whatever's already in our closets.
We weren't sure how a major professional athlete had the time or the inclination to make our new favorite stilettos. So we zoomed down to the Cole Haan store in Miami to ask Maria Sharapova herself.
Hey Maria - cool shoes. Ha! Thanks. It's funny because they asked if I'd be interested in doing a wedge, and at first I said, "Not really!" I was never into wedges growing up, for some reason - maybe a crochet wedge but not these serious ones. But we experimented and came up with this wooden platform, and I think it looks so good on the foot. I wore them two nights ago, I'm wearing them now - I love them. A wedge was a great idea! But you have to work on ideas, they don't just come fully to life without work.
What kind of work?
For example, with this collection, I needed to wear every piece because obviously, I have a lot of say in it. It's my name on it!
Did you ever think you'd become a fashion figure? No way. I never knew I'd get any attention. And it is really weird! But ever since I was young, I've loved arts and crafts... I did them all the time, and it made me realize that I love the creative aspect of things, and the first meetings I had with Nike, I mean, you brainstorm, you have an idea, you talk about it until something clicks - and that part of the process is really inspiring to me. It's not something I ever thought I'd get to do as a professional athlete.
Do you have a trick to running in heels? Hmmm... I believe you can attempt to run in heels but I've honestly never tried it before. It's not something I would recommend for anyone; I prefer ballet flats if you need to run somewhere.
What if it's an emergency? Then I would prefer Nike running shoes!
What about wearing makeup when you work out - good idea or bad idea? Bad idea! I don't wear any makeup when I'm working out. I couldn't; I'd always be worried about it being waterproof and not running down my face, and just the fact that you wipe your sweat off with a towel and it'll show traces of makeup? That makes me wanna never do it, ever. It's not my deal, and I don't think that's what makeup is made for.
The Air Bacara ballet slipper in your collection has laces up the back and your Air Jasmine pumps have suede lacing on the front. Is that an allusion to lacing your tennis racket? No! Actually, in our first meeting, I came into the Nike office with a ballerina flat. I said, "If we're going to do this partnership, you need to do a ballerina. It's all I wear; it's what I travel in, and also I'm so inspired by ballet. So I wanted a shoe with a wraparound detail and some beautiful lacing, because to me, it always goes back to ballet.
You like ballet? Love ballet. Growing up, my mom would always take me to ballets, even after we left Russia and we came to [the] States, even if it wasn't a famous production, we would still go see the ballet. She always thought it would be great for culture and for me to get to know the dance part of athletics. So that lacing detail really goes back to that... but I can always change my mind and say it's about tennis later!
How do you dress off the court? I like to pair crazy things together. LIke a fairy tale skirt with a J. Crew top, sort of that princess-gets-down-to-earth girl. And I love shoes; always have.
You're obsessed? Look, when I walk into a party, I always look down first! I always have though - I'm an accessories freak. Every Christmas since I was little, I wanted a pair of Jimmy Choos. I know some people talk about sleeping with their favorite pair of tennis shoes, if you're so into sports. I was like, "Oh no, I never did that but I still remember my first pair of Jimmy Choos." I was probably fifteen - they were polka dot with a small heel. But they were the biggest deal to me. I was so excited to have them.
Our music issue is coming up - what's the best concert you've ever been to? I went to a U2 concert that was amazing. Everyone knew every word or every song, and they were so passionate. They weren't my favorite band or anything, but just seeing everyone getting excited about the same music was really cool; you understood how all different kinds of people could come together.
Did you meet Bono after? Oh no! I'm not that type of person. I really respect their work, but I want to see them and go home. Less invasive, way better.
Who do you need to see next? I am so obsessed with Florence and the Machine. I've never seen them and I am dying to. Her voice is incredible, and I love her look; it's so unique. I can't wait until I finally see them.
What if you got to do a photo shoot with Florence? That would be amazing. I'd turn into a total fan, though. It would be hard to stay cool.