London, June 26: Maria Kirilenko, Russia’s new blonde bombshell tennis prodigy, steps out on court today to face the unseeded Japanese player Shinobu Asagoe in her first match in the Wimbledon championships.
Aged 19, standing 5ft 8in and with her cover-girl looks, long blonde hair, bronzed legs and a trim, toned body, she could just as easily be joining her compatriot Natalia Vodianova, the face of Calvin Klein, on the catwalk for Paris Couture next week.
As the first true “designer-label player” to compete at the All England Club, Kirilenko (in picture) already has more claim to fashion superstardom than Maria Sharapova, her rival and close friend, in the Russian tennis glamour posse.
She will be facing up to all her opponents in a sleek and sexy tennis wardrobe designed by Stella McCartney for Adidas, which is bound to steal the prize for “Best in Show” from the ball girls and officials, who this year have been kitted out in fantastically preppy Ralph Lauren.
Kirilenko’s new look is a far cry from the androgynous shorts and T-shirt ensembles of Martina Navratilova’s era.
McCartney first spotted Kirilenko two years ago; one of the brightest ' and most beautiful ' of the upcoming Russian players with a refreshingly girlie athletic appeal, she became the perfect muse for the Adidas collaboration.
The result is a cheeky, feminine tennis line, integrated with the spring/summer Adidas collection, which has a punchy colour palette of red, orange, electric yellow and macaw green, alongside the traditional tennis white and pastel hues.
Kirilenko wore the dresses and separates for the first time at the Australian Open in January and was apparently boosted by McCartney telling her: “Now get out there and kick some ass.”
Recently, she delighted fans at the French Open in a pretty, dusky-rose, ruffled tennis dress, with built-in orange bra and matching shorts, as well as a stretch top with “air-conditioned” armpits in sage green and a white pleated skirt.
Her Wimbledon wardrobe, however, in keeping with the dress code, will be all white; a blouson-style tennis dress with pleating details and side-buttoning, accessorised with the “Bashasha”, which is an ultra-light tennis shoe, plus visor, socks and sweatbands.
“I feel privileged Stella asked me to do it as I have always loved fashion,” says Kirilenko.