Tennis star Maria Sharapova and leading sports sponsor are all set to split after a 20-year partnership that helped make her the richest sportswoman in the world.
According to The Sun, the Russian star has told her friends that she believes Nike will not renew her deal which is set to expire at the end of this year.
Sharapova, who has won five Grand Slams has been with Nike since she was just 11. Sharapova’s Nike contract, currently worth about £10m per year, is thought to be the biggest for any female athlete and has made her the best-paid woman in the sport for much of her career.
The sportswear giant suspended their relationship when Sharapova tested positive for banned drug meldonium in 2016. However, the firm returned to business, as usual, a few months later, though, after an anti-doping tribunal found that she had not intentionally broken the rules.
Sharapova was banned for 15 months but since her return, she has been a shadow of herself. Sources say Sharapova is hoping that Adidas will take her on but they might struggle with the budget as they have taken US Open winner Naomi Osaka on board.
Adidas are said to be offering Osaka the biggest deal they have ever given a female athlete – £6.5m per year.