Maria Sharapova's Surprising Shoe Design Inspirations

The tall tennis star admits she's a big fan of flats

Gerardo Somoza/Startraks; Inset: Courtesy Cole Haan

She has a big match coming up — an exhibition at New York’s Madison Square Garden in March — but Maria Sharapova is also focused on fashion these days. The tennis star sat front row at several big runway shows this week (Vera Wang, Oscar de la Renta and Marc Jacobs, to name a few), and is continually hard at work on her Cole Haan accessories collection.

“I always imagined myself being involved in design, but I never thought [others would show] such good interest in [my work],” she tells PEOPLE. “I haven’t even been in the business for that long.”

Sharapova began designing footwear and handbags for the brand in 2008; brightly colored pumps, sandals and flats (like the Air Bacara Ballet, above) pepper her current collection.

“Flats were the first shoe I wanted to design,” she shares. Given that she stands at 6-ft., 2-in., that definitely makes sense. “My style is pretty laid back, but I do occasionally like to put on a heel.”

To that end, the bride-to-be finds lots of inspiration in her world travels — “It’s about the patterns, the way women carry their handbags, their essential go-to shoes,” she shares — and even delicate dancers.

“I have always been drawn to the details of the ballet,” she says, “from the lace on their shoes to the elegance and ease with which they dance. That was everything this ballerina [flat] represents to me.”

So which shoe is she sweet on these days? Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s not a heel. Says the star, “I spent a whole month in Australia with warm weather, so I’ve been wearing my silver glitter ballerinas.” Tell us: Have you shopped Sharapova’s Cole Haan collection?


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