Nike bids farewell to Maria Sharapova

Message arrived just as tennis pro announced her retirement

Published On
Feb 26, 2020

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Today, tennis pro Maria Sharapova announced that at the age of 32 she is retiring from her sport, after earning five Grand Slams and weathering recurring injuries, controversy and criticism.

To mark the occasion, Nike said farewell in a simple tweet featuring her portrait overlaid with a few lines:

They wanted you to smile more.

They wanted you to be more polite.

They wanted you to scream a little softer.

They wanted you to be less aggressive when you were.

They wanted you to walk away when you made mistakes.

But instead of becoming the player the game wanted?

You became the player the game needed.

The style is familiar, with the black-and-white shot reminiscent of the Nike’s famous Colin Kaepernick tweet and copy in the brand's succinct style that was also apparent in its goodbye to Kobe Bryant earlier this week.

And, in line with other recent Nike messages centered on female athletes, it’s a nod to how Sharapova helped to pave the way for female athletes to be themselves, despite all the voices telling her how the game should be played.  

Nike first highlighted Sharapova in its advertising in a 2006 ad from Wieden + Kennedy, directed by Smuggler's Ivan Zacharias. Set to the classic tune "I Feel Pretty," it asserted that "beneath Maria’s beautiful, feminine exterior lives the intense competitive appetite of one of the top athletes in the world," the brand said in a statement at the time.  It ran during the 2006 U.S. Open, where Sharapova bested Justine Henin for the Women's Singles title.


Check out Ad Age's 2017 profile on Sharapova in which she discussed how she planned for the "Grand Slams" to continue, even in her post-tennis life