All General Discussion concerning WTA and ATP
Teenage tennis star Amanda Anisimova inks huge Nike deal
American teenager Amanda Anisimova has signed a whopping new long-term endorsement deal with Nike worth in the Maria Sharapova neighborhood, according to tennis sources.
The deal for the 18-year-old is believed to be one of the largest ever for a teenager. Sharapova is soon to finish up an eight-year Nike deal worth $70 million.
Anisimova, who was born in Freehold, N.J. to Russian parents and moved to Florida when she was 3, is currently ranked 21st – the youngest women’s player in the top 60. She is an up-and-coming star after reaching the French Open semifinals in June at age 17.
Tennis insiders believe that Anisimova faring so strongly on clay at her near 6-foot stature was a significant indication of potential greatness.
As a junior, Anisimova won the 2017 U.S. Open girls’ title, beating the other teenage sensation, Coco Gauff, in the final. Anisimova has only played the main event at the Open once, losing in the first round in 2018. Anisimova missed the 2019 U.S. Open because of the death of her father/coach Konstantin and hasn’t played much since.
Women’s tennis is on solid ground, even if Serena Williams retires shortly. Anisimova, Gauff, 2018 Open champion Naomi Osaka and the new U.S. Open champion, Bianca Andreescu of Canada, makes for a compelling future.
'Next Maria Sharapova': Teenage star in $100 million tennis bombshell
Nike is reportedly going all in on Amanda Anisimova, offering the 18-year-old tennis phenom a record endorsement deal.
Nike has reportedly offered the American phenom a long-term deal that is said to be one of the biggest ever for a teenager.
The deal is said to be somewhere in the neighbourhood of the one signed by Maria Sharapova, who is coming to the end of an eight-year $100 million agreement.
Nike clearly sees Anisimova as the fresh face of their next marketing push, and Sharapova’s probable replacement.
The 18-year-old is currently ranked World No.21 - the youngest female player inside the world’s top 60.
She made the French Open semi-finals in June where she was beaten by eventual champion Ash Barty.
Anisimova appears to be following in Sharapova’s footsteps, on and off the court.
Sharapova has built a $280m empire with her business exploits, cashing in on her image as well as her tennis skills.
And according to her IMG agent Max Eisenbud (who also manages Sharapova), the plans are similar for Anisimova.
“Once Amanda beat [Simona] Halep (at the French Open), I put a team in place to make sure her social media is on point,” Eisenbud recently told ESPN.
“You can’t get endorsement deals without having good social media. That is the world we live in now.
“I talked to her about how many times a day to post and that it might seem weird, but people want to know what you had for breakfast or when you’re training. And how one stupid post can ruin everything.”
But Anisimova knows the results have to come on the tennis court too.
“My next biggest goal is to win a grand slam. Soon,” she said in August.
“I know it’s not going to happen overnight. An old coach told me something you do now might help you in three months, and that’s definitely true.
“Every day I work the hardest I can. I know that’s what I have to do for my career to go the way I want it to.”
And young, slender, blonde and White, plus, being of Eastern European descent is all the rave. Alex Zverev is the male version, at least according to his agent who predicts his looks, blondness in particular, will pay off in the zillions.
Running star Mary Cain says she was pressured to get 'thinner and thinner' by Nike coaches
Mary Cain was a child running prodigy who seemed to have a future of gold medals in front of her when she joined Nike's famed Oregon Project in 2013.
Instead, she left the Oregon Project in 2015 and is speaking out now about the pressure she said she felt there to become "thinner and thinner and thinner."
"I joined Nike because I wanted to be the best female athlete ever," Cain, now 23, said in an op-ed published Thursday in The New York Times. "Instead I was emotionally and physically abused by a system designed by Alberto [Salazar] and endorsed by Nike."
Salazar is the legendary running coach who led the Oregon Project, a program for elite runners that was based in Oregon, Nike's home state.
Salazar's reign in the sport began to unravel in September, when he received a four-year ban by the United States Anti-Doping Agency for doping violations. Shortly after, Nike announced it would shut down the Oregon Project.
(MORE: Nike to change pregnancy policy in athlete contracts after backlash)
Cain said when she arrived at the Oregon Project as an eager athlete who left her freshman year of college for the opportunity, she was met by an all-male Nike staff that "became convinced that in order for me to get better I had to become thinner and thinner and thinner."
Cain recalled being given a number on the scale to hit and being "publicly shamed" if she didn't hit that number.
"I ran terrible during this time," she said. "I reached the point where I was on the starting line and I’d lost the race before I started because in my head all I was thinking of not the time I was trying to hit but the number on the scale I saw earlier that day."
She also said she lost her period for three years and broke five different bones, which she attributes to her lack of menstruation and nutrition.
PHOTO: In this July 24, 2014, file photo, Team USA's Mary Cain wins the 3000-meter run at Hayward Field for the IAAF World Junior Championships in Eugene, Oregon. (Thomas Boyd/The Oregonian via AP, File)
"I felt so scared. I felt so alone and I felt so trapped," she said. "I started to have suicidal thoughts. I started to cut myself."
(MORE: Olympic sprinter Allyson Felix breaks world record held by Usain Bolt 10 months after giving birth)
The breaking point for Cain came after a May 2015 race when she says she was told she did not perform well at because she had gained five pounds. That night, Cain said she told her coaches she was cutting herself and that they did not respond with any help or support.
"I think for me that was my kick in the head where I was like, ‘This system is sick,'" she said. "I think even for my parents in certain ways, once I finally vocalized to them, I mean they were horrified. They bought me the first plane ride home and were like, ‘Get on that flight. Get the hell out of there.’"
"I wasn’t even trying to make the Olympics anymore," she said. "I was trying to survive."
Nike did not reply to a request for comment about Cain's op-ed. The company also did not reply to The New York Times.
ABC News' attempts to reach Salazar by phone were not successful. Salazar replied to the Times by email.
"In an email Alberto Salazar denied many of Mary’s claims and said he had supported her health and welfare," according to the media outlet.
The new claims by Cain come five months after another group of female athletes alleged to The New York Times that Nike penalized them while pregnant.
Shortly after the company said it would do more to protect female athletes' pay during and after pregnancy.
Olympic runner Kara Goucher was one of the female athletes who spoke out, claiming she had to make a choice between training for a half-marathon so she could get paid by Nike to race again or stay with her newborn son in the hospital.
Goucher, now 41, also trained for seven years at the Oregon Project. She did not overlap with Cain there but said she worked with the same coaches and experienced the same type of "toxic environment" as described by Cain.
"Weight was a constant topic," she told "Good Morning America." "Unlike Mary I was actually a grown woman and it affected me tremendously so it’s just so sad to hear her recollection."
Goucher recalled quietly eating energy bars in her room so no one would hear her while training for the Olympic trials in 20018.
"We were training up at altitude and the assistant coach was cooking for me to try to help me lose more weight," she said. "I was 29 at the time and starving but didn’t want them to know."
Both Goucher and Cain claim that Salazar and his team did not have a licensed nutritionist or a licensed sports psychologist on staff.
Goucher recalls weight being a focus for both male and female athletes, but said it was only female athletes who were subject to public scrutiny about their weight and bodies.
While recognizing that treating "women's bodies as objects instead of humans" is a broad cultural problem, Goucher said Nike is seen as the leader in sports and has a responsibility to change their own ways.
"Nike is the leader globally in sports and they have proven time and time again to have a sexist and just really toxic culture," she said. "They have the ability to change it. So far we’ve just seen lip service. We haven’t really seen any action."
Goucher recalled first speaking out about a "toxic culture" at the Oregon Project in 2015 and losing sponsorships and support because of it.
She also spoke to the New York Times for a piece accompanying Cain's op-ed and hopes that by speaking out with Cain there is "power in the numbers and the voices."
"As a society we’ve really started to believe women more and started to see that we’ve just been conditioned to brush these stories off and these actions off and it’s not okay," she said. "I hope people think about their purchasing dollars moving forward and saying they will not tolerate this behavior anymore."