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Anna Who?

Will the new Wimbledon hottie Maria Sharapova be the second downfall of Penthouse when the mag claims to have nude-style Anna Kournikova pictures of her? Let’s hope not because she’s only 17. But Sharapova for now is the new flavor of the day for those ready to exploit her for the almighty dollar.

New York- She is blond, stunningly beautiful and has a wicked forehand.

Maria Sharapova won the hearts of tennis fans around the world with her surprisingly decisive victory over two-time defending champion Serena Williams at Wimbledon.

Now it’s Madison Avenue that’s after her heart.

“She is poised to be the next big thing, the kind of sports celeb that comes along once in a decade,” said Michael Berg of Edge Marketing and Management in Charlotte, N.C.

“Although she’s Russian, she has all-American looks, along with real talent and a very feminine beauty,” he said.

Makeup, clothing and credit card companies are salivating to sign the 17-year-old with the perfect rags-to-riches story who will be in New York next month for the U.S. Open.

A cell phone endorsement also is a natural – she tried to call her mother in Florida from Centre Court in Wimbledon, but the call didn’t go through.

“She has the potential to tap into major advertising dollars,” said Steve Rosner, who helped market Andy Roddick and Andre Agassi before founding 16W Marketing in East Rutherford, N.J.

Her ascension to the pinnacle of tennis is the stuff of legend.

Her dad, Yuri, moved the family from Siberia to avoid fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and later trekked to Florida with $700 in his pocket so 7-year-old Sharapova could train at the famed Bollettieri Tennis Academy.

Her mother, Yelena, stayed behind in Russia for two years because of visa problems while her husband worked odd jobs to keep Sharapova on the courts.

The sacrifice payed off. Now everyone wants a piece of her.

“She’s talented, beautiful and well-spoken, all at a time when women’s tennis is looking for a new hero,” Rosner said.

Sharapova already has endorsements from Nike clothing and Prince tennis rackets as well as a modeling gig with IMG Models, a top agency whose roster includes supermodels Tyra Banks and Heidi Klum.

But her appeal beyond the sport could translate into eight-figure endorsement deals, marketing experts said, making the $1 million Sharapova earned at Wimbledon look like chump change.

Sharapova’s striking looks and Russian background have brought inevitable comparisons with compatriot Anna Kournikova, who has never won a major tournament yet still pulled in about $6 million in the past 12 months.

But the 6-foot-tall Sharapova has made it clear she doesn’t want to be just another pretty face: “I never considered myself as a pinup. I never will,” she said after winning Wimbledon.

And that, in the end, is what will make her great, marketers said.

“The difference is Sharapova can play,” said Marc Ganis of Sportscorp Limited of Chicago. “What Kournikova had was poutiness. Sharapova got game.”

And that’s what will be on display at Flushing Meadow next month.

“When she comes to New York in August, she’s coming to win the U.S. Open,” her manager, Max Eisenbud, told the Daily News. “She won’t have time for anything else.”


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