Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova has joined forces with Dan Meis, a leading architect in the sports arena and stadium market, to design and establish sports, health and wellness facilities at hotels and resorts around the world.
Meis, who is best known for designing a number of major sport venues, such as the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, and Safeco Field in Seattle, told Ad Age that he first approached Sharapova with the idea during her ban from the sport.
In June 2016, Sharapova was handed a two-year ban by the International Tennis Federation after failing a doping test at the Australian Open in January of the same year. The Court of Arbitration for Sport later opted to reduce the ban by nine months and the 30-year-old, one of sport’s commercial powerhouses, returned to competitive action in April this year.
During her time away from tennis, Sharapova and Meis worked on the idea of opening fitness-focused facilities at sites worldwide, with a view to boosting the overall fan experience in the sport. The venture, which is yet to be named, will focus on transforming standard hotel gyms into modern fitness and tennis amenities.
“One of the niches we carved in the marketplace early was to think about the fan experience.” Meis said in an interview with Ad Age. “We didn’t think about the perspective of the athletes. And I really see her (Sharapova’s) brand as being about tenacity and this comeback has been really inspirational.”
Sharapova has experience in design, having project-managed the construction of her home in Manhattan Beach, and will be actively involved in this part of the project, working with Meis to ensure that the new facilities have all the amenities required by modern fans.
Meis said: “I was struck by the fact that she really was interested in design. There is a clean, modern attitude. A mix of cold materials, but then married with warm woods and interesting landscaping. And I really see her brand as being about tenacity and this comeback has been really inspirational.”
Sharapova also said she will draw on her own experiences of training in poor quality facilities to ensure the new sites offer fans something different. She said: “You look at these tennis facilities and they’re just awful. There’s opportunity there.”