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I-play Maria Sharapova Tennis: Maria’s mobile game launches as she enters Wimbledon as its reigning Champion

E3 2005 - LOS ANGELES, CA - May 18, 2005: -- I-play, the mobile games company today announced the European launch of 'Maria Sharapova Tennis', the mobile tennis game based on the reigning Wimbledon champion. Created and developed by India's leading games company, Dhruva Interactive, 'Maria Sharapova Tennis' will launch in Europe in May, a month ahead of the 2005 Wimbledon Championships and in North America, in July, a month ahead of the US Open.

Sharapova, who was recently named one of People Magazine's 2005 "50 most beautiful people", now prepares to defend her Wimbledon Crown. The Russian-born, U.S.-based player took the tennis world by storm when she won the 2004 All-England Championships, the world's most prestigious tournament. Just 18 and only a professional player for three years, she also captured the WTA tournaments in Seoul and Tokyo before beating Serena Williams in the 2004 final of the WTA Championships in Los Angeles. In 2005, she won titles in Tokyo and Doha, Qatar, and reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open in January.

The mobile game is receiving significant marketing investment across both territories, and has already received considerable critical acclaim:

"Maria Sharapova Tennis is quite simply the most well-rounded, feature-rich game of tennis on the mobile scene... ...together with the Maria Sharapova name, it is one of the best titles you can download for your mobile handset."

Experience Gaming

"Put your tennis rackets away and get your fingers warmed up for this smash hit of a tennis game. The gameplay is addictive!"

90% MobileGamefaqs

"Maria Sharapova Tennis is both ambitious and entertaining, much like the player herself... ..the game is confidently presented and compelling enough to keep you gripped."

7.9/10 Keith Stuart, Wireless Gaming Review

"With plenty to engage the player - there are quick singles or doubles matches, as well as an incredibly challenging career mode - MS Tennis offers players plenty of return service. If you're heading to Wimbledon this year, this is the perfect time killer during those disruptive downpours."

85% Games Radar

The only game featuring the Wimbledon champion, players can fight it out as or against Maria in 'Maria Sharapova Tennis'. Participants compete across four Grand Slam tournaments with a range of shots and court surfaces. Career earnings are used to unlock pictures of Maria to store on player's phones.

Sharapova, who has taken considerable interest in the game, commented: "By using my name in a mobile gaming context, I hope that tennis fans will be able to share my passion, whatever the weather or conditions of play."

Rajesh Rao, CEO of Dhruva Interactive commented: "Our effort has been to make a compelling mobile tennis game that can be played by the mass market, not just high end phones. Dhruva has built its reputation on building high quality games. The mobile gaming market is at a critical development phase and we intend Maria Sharapova Tennis to be a genre defining game."

"As part of our drive to create mobile games for everyone, we are very pleased to bring an athlete of huge, global appeal like Maria Sharapova to mobile gaming. The game will be simple to play but difficult to master, just like tennis itself," said Paul Maglione, Senior Vice President of Publishing and Marketing of I-play.

IMG, the world's premier sports and lifestyle management firm, manages the tennis star's relationship with I-play. Gregg Oldfield, Vice President Brand Marketing & Interactive Media, IMG said: "The increasing popularity of mobile games enables sports personalities to capitalize on new media opportunities. I-Play and Dhruva have developed a compelling Maria Sharapova mobile game that provides a high quality interactive experience for tennis fans worldwide."

I-play - did you know?

Research recently conducted by I-play and independent research agency SKOPOS, based on interviews with over 2,500 respondents aged between 12- 44 year olds across the US, the UK, Italy, Spain and Germany, found that an overwhelming 47% of females have played a mobile game. It also revealed that females get stuck into a mobile game more than their male counterparts:- this was most significant in the USA - where 42% of females played a single game for over 20 minutes compared to 27% of men and in the UK where 22% of females played for compared to 15% of men.

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