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Maria Sharapova Ends 10-Year Sponsorship Deal With Prince Sports

Dec. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Former Wimbledon tennis champion Maria Sharapova ended her 10-year sponsorship agreement with racket manufacturer Prince Sports Inc., both parties said.

“Sharapova’s contract with Prince allowed the parties to mutually agree to end the relationship this year and Sharapova and Prince have decided to do so,” Prince and Sharapova said in an e-mailed statement.

Max Eisenbud, the Russian’s agent at IMG, declined to comment on which racket she’ll use next. No reason was given for the end of the relationship.

Sharapova, 23, had been playing with a Prince racket since she was nine years old. All three of her major titles -- Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Australian Open -- were won with a Prince racket.

Gordon Boggis, chief executive of Bordentown, New Jersey-based Prince Sports, thanked the former world No. 1 for being a “great partner.” As the partnership is wound down, Prince will continue to have the rights to market and sell Maria Sharapova signature-line products throughout 2011, the statement said.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my partnership with Prince,” Sharapova said in the statement. “Their rackets helped me to three great slam victories and much more. I will always retain nothing but the highest admiration for Prince.”

Sharapova is the world’s highest-paid female athlete, with annual earnings from endorsements and prize money of $24.5 million, according to an estimate by Forbes magazine in August.

The Russian, who finished the season ranked 18th on the WTA Tour, in January extended her sponsorship agreement with Nike Inc. by eight years for $70 million, a person with knowledge of the contract said at the time.

To contact the reporter on this story: Danielle Rossingh at the London sports desk at drossingh@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at the London sports desk at 2284 or celser@bloomberg.net

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