By Ann Liguori
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Maria Sharapova is in town for the U.S. Open — which starts on Monday — and when she walks into a room, all eyes become focused on the six-foot-two blonde who could be mistaken for a top fashion model. Such was the case when she walked into Manhattan’s Sanctuary Hotel on Monday to attend the Hamptons Magazine party, celebrating her cover story in the most recent issue.

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I wrote the article and interviewed Sharapova for the piece, and we discussed her success — both on and off the court.

The 25-year-old hopes to capture her fifth Major in the coming weeks, having earned the career Grand Slam when she won the French Open title this past June. She previously won the 2004 Wimbledon title, the 2006 U.S. Open and the 2008 Australian Open.

What impresses me most about Sharapova — aside from her incredible comeback from shoulder surgery a few years ago — is her acute business sense. The team she has assembled has helped her maintain the distinction of being the wealthiest female athlete for eight straight years, according to Forbes Magazine. In addition to her endorsements and her direct involvement with products such as Nike, Evian, TAG Heuer, Samsung and Cole Haan, Sharapova just launched a new business venture called Sugarpova, a line of candy. The candy will be sold at Henri Bendel,  Sugarpova boutiques and online at

Sharapova told me that she has always been very passionate about food, and that she has a huge sweet tooth. She is most excited about completely owning Sugarpova and being involved in all business aspects of the creatively-packaged product, which includes “Splashy” gummy candy and “Spooky Sour” gummies.

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“Because I’m an athlete people always ask me about my diet and nutrition,” Sharapova said. “I don’t have a certain nutritional schedule. I think it’s about being smart and making the right decisions. You know what’s healthy and you know what’s not. You don’t need a lot of resources to know what is good and bad for you. It’s a matter of making the right decision for your body.”

When I asked her how she responds to those who say that kids eat too much sugar as it is, she responded, “Who doesn’t love this type of candy? Of course I’m an athlete and of course you have to watch what you eat. But I’ve had a sweet tooth since I can remember.”

As for what candy she enjoys most these days?

“My tastes have certainly changed over the years as far as what candy I liked and what candy I like now,” Sharapova said. “At the end of the day it’s fun, it’s young, it’s easy and everybody loves it! You have to be careful. You can have so much that it’s overwhelming. But just because I’m an athlete doesn’t mean that I don’t eat it. I’m not afraid to say it, either!”

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How do you like Sharapova’s chances at the Open? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…