Don't cut ties with 'marketable' Sharapova too quickly, sports data expert warns

Brands should not be too quick to drop Maria Sharapova, a sports data specialist has warned.

Late on Monday, the former world number one tennis player held a press conference announcing she had tested positive for a substance that she claimed was used for health reasons and had only recently been added to the banned substances list. Her provisional suspension from tennis begins this weekend.

According to Repucom research carried out at the end of last month, Sharapova was the most marketable female athlete in the world, with nearly 80 per cent of the UK public and 76 per cent of global audiences able to recognise who she is.

The Russian's Celebrity DBI marketability score of 74.07 as determined by Repucom put her just ahead of fellow tennis star Serena Williams on 72.48, with US skier Lindsey Vonn in third place but substantially less marketable, with a 48.57 rating.

Repucom said Sharapova had taken charge of the situation in the way she made the announcement and the language she used.

The company noted that sponsors such as Nike and Porsche had suspended their deals with her rather than cancelling them outright and advised other brands to take a similarly cautious approach.

Jon Stainer, managing director of Repucom, said: "Brands are currently waiting to see what further fall-out there might be but are seemingly cautious not to cut ties too quickly.

"Sharapova has been, up to now, a great ambassador for the sport, sponsoring brands as well as her own products, and sponsors that do cut ties too quickly may allow other rivals to easily take their place."

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