Speaking to WTA Insider while promoting her Sugarpova candy brand at Bloomingdale's in Manhattan, the World No.3 revealed the upper right leg injury, which she picked up during training right before Stanford, has taken a surprisingly long time to heal.
"I'm back on the court a little bit, I'm not moving as much as I'd like to yet," Sharapova said. "It's still a day-to-day thing. I'm spending a lot of time in the gym and on the massage table and all that." Sharapova will need to be on her toes from her opening round, as she opens against WTA Rising Star Daria Gavrilova. The World No.37 stunned Sharapova at the Miami Open earlier this year.
Sharapova has kept a busy pre-tournament promotional schedule this week, popping up all over New York to promote her various sponsors, including Nike, Sugarpova, and American Express. At a Sugarpova event on Tuesday, Sharapova greeted media and fans for nearly an hour, patiently signing every autograph and satisfying every selfie request for over an hour.
Speaking about her expansion plans for Sugarpova, which she launched in New York three years ago, Sharapova is looking to launch a chocolate line next year. Right now she's still in search of a production factory, with a few good candidates located in the US.
"I've been to a couple in the states," Sharapova said. "I'm going to go to Chicago after the Open. We've got a really strong candidate there. They're kind of killing me on it because I'm taking a little bit longer than I wanted to, but I really am trying to find the best chocolate factory in the world."
As for the budding Willy Wonka-esque confectionary empire, Sharapova said the process of not just launching the product but continuing to build the brand has been the most educational aspect of the venture.
"It's much more expensive than you originally think it would be," Sharapova said. "You don't put a penny in your pocket, you always reinvest. When you start a brand there's this huge misconception that if it's successful it's money made right there. When you're building a brand, right away you're investing into other projects right away. We're doing that with chocolate next year. It's really an evolution and that's part of the learning process."
Earlier this week, Sharapova announced she would be hosting an off-season exhibition - dubbed "Sharapova & Friends" - that will take place at UCLA on December 12-13. While one goal of the event was to bring tennis back to Los Angeles, where there has not been a tournament since 2009, Sharapova also hopes the strategic timing will help the players she's invited, including Kei Nishikori, Madison Keys, Jack Sock, and Laura Robson.
"As we're gearing up for the Australian Open there's an element of practice and seriousness as we're going about it. Usually the exhibitions you do right after a long season you're smiling and looking at your watch," she said laughing. "You know how it is. But I think if you're doing it a week or two just before they're going to Australia, everyone is prepared already ready to go. I think that's the kind of level the people in LA want to see of tennis and I think that it will be really fun."