INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Maria Sharapova has made a career of getting in on things early, most notably when she won her first Grand Slam title at 17. But when it comes to Twitter, she’s a late adopter, having signed up for the social-media service only two months ago. And she admits she’s struggling with it.
“It’s overwhelming,” Sharapova told a small group of reporters at the BNP Paribas Open on Wednesday. “I’m trying to make it more unique because I think what fans expect of me, what I do on a daily basis, can be quite boring. So I try to find things to say or things to share that are maybe more inside information rather than the boring stuff.”
Providing that access into her life is a two-way street. Celebrities love Twitter because it gives them a direct line of communication to their fans, but it also gives fans an open line back. Sharapova, 25, says she reads the messages she receives, which can include anything from praise to criticism to just lewd, anonymous Internet idiocy. With all the discussion in recent weeks about the negativity directed at athletes on Twitter, I asked her if she was surprised by what she saw.
“I think our society is pretty crazy at times,” she said. “So no, I’m not surprised by some of the things I read.”
The recent decision to join Twitter followed a few months after the launch of her Sugarpova gummy candy line. Both ventures seem to have presented fans with the softer side of Sharapova. A famously intense competitor, Sharapova says she’s a goofy dork at heart who likes to keep things light off the court.
“I’m not very serious in other things that I do,” said Sharapova, who is playing here this week at the BNP Paribas Open. “I’m quite playful and I don’t take things too seriously. I’m quite young inside, so I think that’s helped me stay grounded in my professional career.”
Sometimes that means rocking out to Wii karaoke.
“I love karaoke,” she said, laughing. “I’m good at singing Cher. I can bust that out. And not bad at Rihanna. I can do Rihanna pretty good.
“Apparently, I’m really good at that Wii Glee thing. I got an A-plus, thank you very much.”
And then she broke out into song, belting out a few high notes of Cher’s Believe.
Sugarpova has been a resounding success. The brand has gone global since its U.S. launch in August 2012, and not a tournament goes by that Sharapova isn’t doing her part to promote it. She spent half her day on Wednesday running from a promotional event on site to another at the La Quinta Resort in the evening.
“When I started the project,” Sharapova said, “it was all about quality. From the actual candy to the packaging, I knew that if it was done right and if it was strong in the beginning, then people would appreciate it. But it’s certainly exceeded my expectations.”
As for that new “Steamy” flavor she teased with a wink in Australia, a thinly veiled reference to her rumored romance with ATP pro Grigor Dimitrov, Sharapova tried to keep a straight face.
“Steamy is great,” she said. “Yes. It’s going to be the best flavor yet.”