Maria Sharapova Will Suit Up As A Virtual Reality Player At The U.S. Open

Maria Sharapova will not suit up to play in this year’s U.S. Open due to a leg injury but that doesn’t mean she won’t be involved in the tournament. Instead, Maria Sharapova will take the opportunity to market the brands she’s affiliated with, the foremost of which being American Express. Tennis fans will also get the opportunity to play against a virtual reality version of the Russian tennis player at the Flushing Meadows this year, according to Adweek.

American Express and Sharapova recently signed a multi-year deal that made the Russian tennis player the face of American Express at the U.S. Open tournament.

The deal has launched numerous programs that will coincide with the two-week tournament. One such program features a unique, state-of-the-art virtual reality game called, “You vs Sharapova,” which promoters said will push the boundaries of the gaming world.

“You vs. Sharapova” will allow tennis fans to play against a virtual version of Maria Sharapova at the 2015 U.S. Open. Using HTC Vive Technology and an innovative Valve Lighthouse tracking system, the virtual reality game will feature realistic in-game physics and virtual environments. Fans can play the game by visiting the USTA Billie Jean King National Center.

The game was designed to make players feel like they’re facing off against the real Maria Sharapova on the tennis court. If you’ve ever wondered whether you can successfully return a 100-mile-per-hour serve from the Russian star, this game gives you the opportunity to find out.

“Over the last several years, we’ve been immersing fans through technology in the game,” explains Deborah Curtis, Vice President of global sponsorships and experiential marketing for American Express.

“For us, virtual reality is sort of the next evolution of what we have been doing, which is put the fan at the center of the experience. And in this case, we’re allowing the fan to join this virtual world of being on the court with one of tennis’ greats, Maria Sharapova.”

Maria Sharapova also announced on Facebook and Twitter that she’ll be busy joining the #AmexTennis Daily Debates while she isn’t playing at the U.S. Open.

Sharapova has earned quite a reputation as a businesswoman recently. In early August, Forbes named her the highest-earning female athlete for 2015, as previously reported by the Inquisitr.

Sharapova’s candy line, Sugarpova, is perhaps the Russian player’s most lucrative business. On August 25, Sharapova set up a pop up shop for the candy line at Bloomingdale’s.

This is the second time Sharapova has pulled out of the U.S. Open tournament in three years, the first time being in 2013 due to a shoulder injury. Maria Sharapova was going to be seeded at the number three position before she announced her withdrawal from the tournament on Sunday.

[Photo courtesy of American Express]