Although she is yet to qualify for a Grand Slam singles title, American tennis phenom Amanda Anisimova is already being touted as the sport’s next Maria Sharapova.
Anisimova enjoyed a breakthrough 2019, where she made the fourth round of the Australian Open and qualified for the semi-finals at Roland Garros, where she was defeated by Australia’s Ash Barty.
The 18-year-old also paired with Australian bad boy Nick Kyrgios during the 2020 Australian Open mixed doubles tournament, the duo reaching the second round in January.
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Before the coronavirus epidemic brought the sporting world to a standstill, Anisimova had her sights set on breaking into the top 20 of the WTA rankings.
Agent Max Eisenbud has labelled Anisimova the “next Maria Sharapova” of tennis, and he should know, having also managed the recently-retired Russian superstar.
Both come from Russian descent, both are tall, both are blonde — the only thing separating the duo is Sharapova’s five Grand Slam singles titles.
Growing up, Anisimova idolised to former World No. 1, along with American superstar Serena Williams.
“Obviously, there are similarities, it’s hard to go away from that,” Eisenbud, head of IMG Tennis, told CNN Sport.
“I am the agent, they’re both very attractive, they both have Russian roots, all that kind of stuff.
“There are those similarities that will always be there. But they are very different personalities.”
Currently sitting at No. 28 in the world, the talented teenager signed a lucrative endorsement deal with Nike last year as the sportswear giant recognised her potential to be the pin-up girl for the sport’s next generation. In October, the New York Post reported the deal was worth a similar amount to Sharapova’s AU$100 million eight-year deal.
Although he would not confirm what the Nike deal was worth, Eisenbud conceded it was “probably one of the biggest clothing deals out there.” He believes the increasing prevalence of social media will contribute to the growth of Anisimova’s personal brand.
The 18-year-old already boasts over 161,000 followers on Instagram, and has also signed mammoth deals with Gatorade and Therabody.
“She’s got Russian blood, so I am not too worried about (the endorsements). She’s pretty tough, and very driven and very professional,” Eisenbud said.
“When Maria won in 2004, there was no social media, and now there is. That’s a big difference.
“The brands want different things. It’s all about what we’re doing on social.
“She is just really down to earth … That personality trait can be attractive to a lot of brands
“But I think in the end, she is going to be a real big winner, and brands want to be associated with that.”
Last year, Anisimova was derailed by personal tragedy. Her father and former coach, Konstantin Anisimova, passed away suddenly of a reported heart attack in late August, at 52, just days before the US Open and a week before her 18th birthday.
“It was the worst thing that ever happened to me,” Anisimova told the New York Post.
“It was very tough.
“It took a little bit of time for me to enjoy the game again.
“But I am now finally getting back into it. I am doing it for myself and also for my dad.”
Last week, Anisimova rejected calls to abandon the US Open as players remain split on whether the grand slam should go ahead.