NEW YORK—The withdrawal of a headliner like Maria Sharapova from a Grand Slam has a ripple effect throughout the tournament. For one thing, the absence of the No. 3 seed opens up a large hole in one quarter of the women’s draw. From a scheduling and television perspective, there’s one less marquee attraction to lure eyeballs. And for her sponsor, Nike, it’s a very expensive face that’s not modeling her signature apparel. Super Bowl champion t-shirts made in advance for the losing team may get sent to impoverished nations, but just because a balky shoulder kept Sharapova home doesn’t mean her clothes didn’t make the trip to Queens.
The Sharapova evening dress is often a closely guarded secret until she takes the court for her first night match. Always fashion-conscious, previous incarnations drew inspiration from an Audrey Hepburn movie. This year’s offering doesn’t have quite the same elegance, and from a distance has an almost camouflage vibe (see middle, at right).
Without Sharapova here to show it off, it falls to Sharapova team members, Madison Keys (No. 39) and Eugenie Bouchard (No. 59), to do the modeling. Keys lost her opening match on Monday, but Bouchard moved on. At $175 a pop at the onsite Nike store, the company is undoubtedly hoping the Canadian can defy her ranking and give Sharapova’s dress a run into the second week.