- Darren Rovell, ESPN.com Sports Business reporter
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Maria Sharapova is quickly proving that beauty and game are a slam dunk in the marketing world.
Sources tell ESPN.com that the 18-year-old has recently signed a three-year deal with Colgate-Palmolive worth at least $2 million annually.
Officials with Colgate-Palmolive did not immediately return calls seeking comment and Sharapova's agent Max Eisenbud would not confirm specifics of the deal.
With traditional endorsement deals from the likes of Tag Heuer, Canon, Motorola, Prince and Nike, and less traditional deals for a licensed perfume and cell phone video game, Sharapova could earn more than $20 million in 2005, when considering her off-the-court take, appearance fees and prize money.
Sharapova will begin by endorsing Colgate-Palmolive's Lady Speed Stick, but sources say the contract allows the company to make Sharapova the face of its other brands, which include Colgate toothpaste, Softsoap bodywash and even Hill's, the company's pet nutrition label.
Endorsing Colgate, America's best selling brand, eventually might be a natural for the straight-toothed Sharapova, who was named as one of People's 50 Most Beautiful People in the magazine that hit newsstands Friday.
Colgate-Palmolive is hoping Sharapova's face and name will help the consumer products company make money. In December, the company said it would cut its worldwide work force by about 12 percent, and close one-third of its factories in an effort to boost sales and profits.
Sharapova, who won the Wimbledon title last July, is currently ranked No. 2 in the world. In 2005, her singles record is 22-3 and she has won two WTA Tour events.
Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at Darren.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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