afaqs! news bureau

Nike’s farewell to retired tennis star Maria Sharapova

Nike cheered Sharapova's presence in the sport with a tweet.

Maria Sharapova recently announced her departure from tennis. While she had her own reasons to retire, it's Nike's farewell address to Sharapova that caught our attention. The sports brand posted a tweet cheering her journey in the sport.

The tweet read: "They wanted you to smile more. They wanted you to be more polite. They wanted you to scream a little softer. They wanted you to be less aggressive when you won. They wanted you to walk away when you made mistakes. But instead of just becoming the player the game wanted? You became the player it needed."

Nike and Sharapova have history. Back in 2016, she was suspended for failing a dope test and was banned from playing the game for 15 months. While other brands (like Tag Heuer) she was endorsing at the time decided against extending the deal, Nike stuck with it.

This is not the first time Nike has stood by a sports figure. The brand made news in 2018 for its association with American footballer and former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He created controversy by kneeling during the national anthem before pre-season games of 2016. He did it to protest against police brutality and racial injustice. This act drew criticism, ultimately affecting Kaepernick's sports career.

The copy of Nike's ad featuring the footballer read – "Believe in something. Even if it mean sacrificing everything."

While Kaepernick faced his share of criticism and disregard, Nike came under fire, too, with the US President Donald Trump tweeting, "Just like the NFL, whose ratings have gone WAY DOWN, Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts."