Maria Sharapova: The Last Tennis Diva

 The recent news of Maria Sharapova’s endorsement deal with Tiffany’s begged TCL to wax nostalgic for the bygone days of the tennis diva.

We love the flapper-inspired Nike number Sharapova’s wearing at Roland Garros. The color is gorgeous and the drop-waist cut flattering. Even better, Tiffany’s accessorized this "Paris dress" with pearl buttons that fasten in back. The look recalls tennis’ first divas, Suzanne Lenglen and Helen Wills. Should Sharapova eschew her usual sex-appeal-killing visor for a Wills-like cloche, we would be forever in her thrall.

That got us thinking about the dearth of divas now on tour. So what that Sharapova will sport a pair of Elsa Peretti-designed earrings that cost $1,150? Remember Serena Williams’ $40,000 diamond chandelier earrings? And her "tennis earrings," also a cool forty thou? By comparison, Sharapova’s "Wave" earrings are a ratty raccoon stole to Serena’s full-length mink.

And why was the reigning Australian Open champ the only diva showcasing her wardrobe this season? We pine for the days when the Williams sisters held separate press conferences for their clothes. We miss Martina Hingis, the Joan Collins of tennis divas. We miss her doubles partner and co-conspiradivator Anna Kournikova. We sigh for the golden days — before Venus got her AARP card and Serena began shopping at Lane Bryant.

A few players aspire to divahood, but please. Ashley Harkleroad might be a cutie, but her appearance in an upcoming Playboy doesn’t qualify her for Miss Thing status. Instead, as with Amanda Beard’s decision to bear all for Hef, it smacks of a last, desperate grasp at fame and fortune. Jelena Jankovic has been shopping like a diva, but she lacks two essentials. First, she has to win — and win a lot. Then, well,  … here, see for yourself. No one else is even close.

Sharapova has the right qualifications, especially if she completes a career Grand Slam next week by winning the French Open. Too bad it’s the wrong time.

To be a prima donna in women’s tennis, you’ve gotta have other prima donnas whom you toil to set yourself apart from. Otherwise, your $1,050 earrings don’t look a whole lot different than everyone else’s Claire’s purchase.

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