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Tennis champion Maria Sharapova in endorsement deal with Gatorade 1/18/2007

- launches the Gatorade Beat the Heat safety education campaign

Maria Sharapova

Defending U.S. Open champion Maria Sharapova has signed a deal with PepsiCo Inc. to endorse Gatorade.

"It's about what's inside of your body, what makes you the individual you are," Sharapova said. "As for myself, I think it's the competitiveness that I bring out on the court and the drive that I have within me."

Sharapova finished last year behind only Justine Henin-Hardenne in the WTA Tour points rankings, and the deal with Gatorade adds to her rapidly growing list of major endorsements worldwide.

The 2004 Wimbledon champion, who doesn't turn 20 until this April, has an estimated annual income of $30 million from endorsements, appearance fees, prize money and other sources.

"Not only is Maria Sharapova one of the world's best athletes, but she exemplifies a healthy lifestyle both on and off the court," said PepsiCo senior vice president Ron Coughlin. "We know she will be a tremendous ambassador for Gatorade."

Last week Sharapova also launched the Gatorade Beat the Heat campaign, a global public safety campaign designed to alert parents of the dangers of dehydration and heat illness among children. During this event Sharapova assisted the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI) in conducting important hydration testing on young tennis players as well as giving important safety tips to children and helping them to learn proper tennis techniques.

Apart from leading this global hydration campaign, Sharapova will also star in a new Gatorade commercial to be launched early this year.

PepsiCo, based in Purchase, N.Y., is the second biggest U.S. soft drink maker and also owns the Frito-Lay snacks business and Quaker foods.

Gatorade is imported by Wands Limited, a subsidiary of the Farsons Group of Companies.