In a year when the sporting world grew accustomed to the Maria Sharapova watch, the Russian tennis star will now get paid to wear one.
Sharapova has signed a three-year deal with watchmaker TAG Heuer, according to sources with knowledge of the deal. The contract is believed to be worth about $1 million annually.
Since winning Wimbledon in July, the 17-year-old Sharapova has been a marketing darling. TAG Heuer is the fourth company to sign her in the last six months. Her new deals with Motorola and Canon and Parlux Fragrances -- which will debut her perfume next fall -- combined with previously structured contracts with Nike, Prince and Speedminton, likely make her the highest-earning female athlete in the world. All told, Sharapova figures to earn at least $15 million in marketing next year.
After winning Wimbledon, Sharapova proved that she was the real deal by winning three more tournaments. She finished the year ranked a career-high No. 4 after defeating Serena Williams in the WTA championship last month.
Sources indicated that Sharapova will be a brand ambassador, along with the watchmaker's other sports icons including Finnish Formula One driver Kimi Raikkonen and golfer Tiger Woods, whose watch deal is reportedly worth $2 million per year.
While TAG Heuer, which is also the official timekeeper of the Indy Racing League, produced two limited edition Tiger Woods' watches in as many years, it is not clear if Sharapova will have her own timepiece.
As they say, only time will tell.
Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.